[Retroperitoneal fibrosis, an unrecognized inflammatory disease. Clinical observations and review of the literature]

Nephrologie. 2003;24(4):173-80.
[Article in French]


Retroperitoneal fibrosis (RF) is a rare disease, typically with an insidious clinical course. The peak incidence is seen in patients 40 to 60 years of age and mostly in man. The characteristic finding in this disease is a periaortic fibrous mass that often surrounds the ureters. Although usually regarded as an obstructive uropathy, there has been growing recognition of the condition as a generalized disease. It may have a wide variety of manifestations including mediastinitis, thyroiditis and sclerosing cholangitis. The most common mode of presentation remains abdominal or flank pain with uremia, anemia and a high sedimentation rate. Although ultrasound and renal scintigraphy may contribute to the general evaluation of patients with RF, CT-scanner is the preferred imaging method. The multiplanar imaging capability of magnetic resonance may facilitate assessment of disease extent. The pathogenesis of the disease remains unknown. Steroids and, more recently tamoxifen, appear to be effective in the treatment of the RF. In most instances, RF does not lead to long-term morbidity or affect survival. The three cases of RF reported herein illustrate the varied mode of presentation and the response to the treatment.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anemia
  • Aortic Aneurysm / complications
  • Aortic Aneurysm / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Prognosis
  • Retroperitoneal Fibrosis* / diagnosis
  • Retroperitoneal Fibrosis* / etiology
  • Retroperitoneal Fibrosis* / therapy
  • Steroids / therapeutic use
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Uremia


  • Steroids
  • Prednisone