The purpose of this study was to determine to what extent high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) of the lungs can distinguish active inflammatory disease from inactive cicatricial disease in patients treated for Wegener's granulomatosis (WG). Twenty-eight WG patients with active pulmonary disease underwent a first HRCT examination immediately before standard immunosuppressive treatment and a second examination after clinical remission had been achieved. Lesions remaining after treatment were categorized as residual damage and were compared with findings during active disease to see by what features active and cicatricial disease can be distinguished. During active disease 17 patients had nodules/masses, 12 had ground-glass opacities, 6 had septal lines and 6 had non-septal lines. After treatment, ground-glass opacities had resolved completely. Nodules/masses had resolved in 8 patients and had diminished in 7 patients. Residual nodules were distinguished from nodules/masses in active disease by lack of cavitation and a diameter of mostly <15 mm. In one-third of patients lines resolved, but in 8 instances new lines evolved during immunosuppression. During a follow-up period of a median 26.5 months (range 20.0-33.8), patients with residual nodules or lines had no more relapses than patients with completely cleared lungs. Treated pulmonary WG leaves substantial residual damage, High-resolution CT does assist in the distinction between active and inactive lesions. Ground-glass opacities, cavitating nodules/masses and masses measuring more than 3 cm represent active disease ordinarily. Non-cavitary small nodules and septal or non-septal lines can be either active or cicatricial lesions. The nature of these lesions needs to be clarified by longitudinal observation.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)