, Volume 191, Issue 1, pp 19–25 | Cite as

Diagnostic Workup for Diffuse Parenchymal Lung Disease: Schematic Flowchart, Literature Review, and Pitfalls

  • Barbara DeconinckEmail author
  • Johny Verschakelen
  • Johan Coolen
  • Eric Verbeken
  • Geert Verleden
  • Wim Wuyts



The term diffuse parenchymal lung disease (DPLD) refers to a group of disorders affecting the lung parenchyma that can be categorized into those of known and those of unknown etiology. Early diagnosis is important since some forms of DPLD are characterized by a rapid progression to respiratory failure. Notwithstanding the fact that recently guidelines have been published, some issues concerning the practical evaluation of a patient with suspected DPLD remain unclear.


In this article we propose a practical approach to the diagnosis and differentiation of DPLD. Moreover, a critical appraisal is provided based on the current literature and frequent pitfalls are highlighted.


we propose a practical workup, but in spite of increasing evidence concerning the diagnosis of DPLD, further studies will be needed to clarify several issues for efficient investigation of newly diagnosed patients with DPLD.


Interstitial lung diseases Diffuse parenchymal lung diseases Pulmonary fibrosis Diagnosis Investigation 



This article is the result of several challenging debates held with all members involved in the unit for Interstitial Lung Diseases Leuven.

Conflict of interest

Wim Wuyts is Senior Clinical Investigator of the Research Foundation—Flanders (FWO-Vlaanderen). None of the authors has any conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Deconinck
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johny Verschakelen
    • 2
  • Johan Coolen
    • 2
  • Eric Verbeken
    • 3
  • Geert Verleden
    • 4
    • 5
  • Wim Wuyts
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Internal MedicineUniversity Hospitals LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyUniversity Hospitals LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Department of HistopathologyUniversity Hospitals LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  4. 4.Unit for Lung Transplantation, Department of Respiratory MedicineUniversity Hospitals LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  5. 5.Unit for Interstitial Lung Diseases, Department of PneumologyUniversity Hospitals LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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