Wegener's granulomatosis: a challenging disease for otorhinolaryngologists

Acta Otolaryngol. 2005 Oct;125(10):1105-10. doi: 10.1080/00016480510028500.


Diagnosis of Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) can be delayed because of its aspecific presenting symptoms. Detection of serum circulating antineutrophil cytoplasm antibodies (c-ANCAs), in combination with histology, permits one to identify WG at an early stage and to implement stage-adapted therapy. c-ANCA levels may also help to evaluate the response to medical therapy. Recently, the quality of life of WG patients has been improved by administering cotrimoxazole in order to prevent infections and recurrent diseases during the remission period.WG is of special significance to the otorhinolaryngologist because it is often initially limited to the upper respiratory tract before becoming systemic. The aim of this paper was to describe a series of WG patients and underline the difficulties involved in diagnosing and treating this challenging disease. This was a prospective study in 23 consecutive patients with head and neck manifestations of WG (17 systemic, 6 limited). Diagnosis was performed by means of both c-ANCAs detection using indirect immunofluorescence and histology in biopsy specimens. Treatment consisted of daily cyclophosphamide (CYC; 2 mg/kg/day) and glucocorticoids (prednisone; 1 mg/kg/day). If an improvement or toxic events occurred, CYC was discontinued and methotrexate was started. If, during remission of the disease, low serum c-ANCAs levels were detected, CYC was suspended and cotrimoxazole (1 g/day) was introduced. Serum c-ANCAs detection was positive for all patients. Biopsy was diagnostic from the beginning in 19/23 cases. The six patients with limited WG did not show a progression to systemic disease. Only 3 patients with a diagnosis of delayed systemic WG died, whereas 19/23 patients were alive with good control of relapses.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic / blood
  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis / complications
  • Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis / diagnosis*
  • Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Serologic Tests


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Prednisone
  • Methotrexate