Sarcoidosis

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Sarcoidosis facts

  • Sarcoidosis is a disease that causes inflammation of body tissues.
  • The cause of sarcoidosis is not known.
  • Sarcoidosis commonly affects the lungs and skin.
  • Diagnosis is suggested by the patient's medical history, routine tests, a physical examination, and a chest X-ray.
  • Many patients with sarcoidosis require no treatment.
  • For more severe disease, cortisone-related medications are used. Other treatments are considered, as above, depending on what areas of the body are affected and to what degree.

What is sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is a disease that results from a specific type of inflammation of tissues of the body. It can appear in almost any body organ, but it starts most often in the lungs or lymph nodes.

The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown. The disease can appear suddenly and disappear. Or it can develop gradually and go on to produce symptoms that come and go, sometimes for a lifetime.

As sarcoidosis progresses, microscopic lumps of a specific form of inflammation, called granulomas, appear in the affected tissues. In the majority of cases, these granulomas clear up, either with or without treatment. In the few cases where the granulomas do not heal and disappear, the tissues tend to remain inflamed and become scarred (fibrotic).

Sarcoidosis was first identified over 100 years ago by two dermatologists working independently, Dr. Jonathan Hutchinson in England and Dr. Caesar Boeck in Norway. Sarcoidosis was originally called Hutchinson's disease or Boeck's disease. Dr. Boeck went on to fashion today's name for the disease from the Greek words "sark" and "oid," meaning flesh-like. The term describes the skin eruptions that are frequently caused by the illness.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/9/2015
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