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Leuschner, Gabriela; Reiter, Fredrik; Stocker, Florian; Crispin, Alexander; Kneidinger, Nikolaus; Veit, Tobias; Klenner, Friederike; Ceelen, Felix; Zimmermann, Gregor; Leuchte, Hanno; Reu, Simone; Dinkel, Julien; Behr, Jürgen; Neurohr, Claus (2018): Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Among Young Patients: Challenges in Diagnosis and Management. In: Lung, Vol. 196, No. 4: pp. 401-408
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INTRODUCTION Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is considered a disease of older patients, being rare in patients ≤ 50~years. Still, IPF can occur in younger patients, but this particular patient group is not well characterised so far. The aim of this study was to compare the diagnostic certainty, clinical features, comorbidities and survival in young versus older IPF patients. METHODS We reviewed our medical records from February 2011 until February 2015, to identify IPF patients, who were then classified as young (≤ 50~years) or older IPF (> 50~years). Radiographic and histological findings, lung function parameters, comorbidities, disease progression and survival were analysed and compared between the two groups. RESULTS Of 440 patients with interstitial lung disease, 129 patients with IPF were identified, including 30 (23.3%) ≤50~years and 99 (76.7%) > 50~years. There were no differences between age groups in baseline demographics; younger patients were less likely to have a confirmed diagnosis by high-resolution computed tomography (p = 0.014), more likely to require a biopsy (p = 0.08) and less likely to have received antifibrotic therapy (p = 0.006). Despite an overall limited prognosis, younger patients had a significantly better median survival after diagnosis (p = 0.0375), with a significantly higher proportion of older patients dying due to respiratory failure (p = 0.0383). CONCLUSION IPF patients under the age of 50~years have similar features and clinical course compared to older IPF patients. These patients should be diagnosed by adopting a multidisciplinary team approach, potentially benefitting from earlier intervention with effective antifibrotic therapy.