Sarcoidosis of the upper and lower airways

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Abstract

Sarcoidosis is a systemic granulomatous disease of undetermined etiology characterized by a variable clinical presentation and disease course. Although clinical granulomatous inflammation may occur within any organ system, more than 90% of sarcoidosis patients have lung disease. Sarcoidosis is considered an interstitial lung disease that is frequently characterized by restrictive physiologic dysfunction on pulmonary function tests. However, sarcoidosis also involves the airways (large and small), causing obstructive airways disease. It is one of a few interstitial lung diseases that affects the entire length of the respiratory tract – from the nose to the terminal bronchioles – and causes a broad spectrum of airways dysfunction. This article examines airway dysfunction in sarcoidosis. The anatomical structure of the airways is the organizational framework for our discussion. We discuss sarcoidosis involving the nose, sinuses, nasal passages, larynx, trachea, bronchi and small airways. Common complications of airways disease, such as, atelectasis, fibrosis, bullous leions, bronchiectasis, cavitary lesions and mycetomas, are also reviewed.

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