Objective: To examine the outcome in 155 consecutive patients with Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) followed up for a median of 7 years.
Methods: Treatment was adapted to the activity and extent of disease, with regular evaluation by an interdisciplinary team accompanied by group education about vasculitis.
Results: The estimated median survival time was 21.7 years (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 15.60-27.86). Twenty-two patients died; 19 deaths were attributable to WG and/or its treatment. Significant predictors of survival at diagnosis were age >50 years (hazard ratio [HR] 5.45, 95% CI 1.97-15.02), kidney involvement with impaired renal function (HR 5.42, 95% CI 1.76-16.68), and lung involvement (HR 3.75, 95% CI 1.26-11.16). At some stage, 142 patients received prednisone and cyclophosphamide (CYC), usually as daily CYC plus mesna as uroprotection, 50 patients received trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, and 45 received methotrexate. Complete remission was achieved in 83 of the 155 patients. One or more relapses occurred in 99 patients after either complete or partial remission. CYC-induced cystitis and myelodysplastic syndrome occurred in 17 and 11 patients, respectively. A cumulative dose of 100 gm or more of CYC resulted in a 2-fold greater risk of CYC-related morbidity than with lower CYC doses. Serious infections occurred in 41 patients.
Conclusion: An interdisciplinary approach to the care of 155 WG patients resulted in a median survival of >21 years. Kidney or lung involvement at diagnosis was predictive of a >3-fold higher mortality. Although CYC remains essential in the treatment of WG, it was administered as briefly as possible and under close surveillance to avoid permanent CYC-related morbidity, which can lead to serious therapeutic problems in chronic relapsing WG.