Airway involvement and obstruction from granulomas in African-American patients with sarcoidosis

Respir Med. 2007 Nov;101(11):2279-83. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2007.06.026. Epub 2007 Aug 6.


Sarcoidosis is a global disorder whose breadth of organ involvement can often be underappreciated. Head and neck manifestations include involvement of the skin, salivary glands, sinonasal cavity, and larynx. Of cases of upper airway sarcoidosis, laryngeal sarcoidosis and airway compromise portend a greater risk of fatal outcomes. People representing all racial groups have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis. Although many studies have evaluated incidence and manifestations of sarcoidosis in multiple ethnicities, few studies have explored racial predilection for laryngeal involvement. However, assertions that disease severity and poor outcome may be tied to the African diaspora as well as related socio-economic and cultural realities have been recognized. We present our case series of six African-American patients diagnosed with sarcoidosis and presented with complaints of voice change and increased shortness of breath. Four of them required expeditious, surgical management of the airway. Two had limited supraglottic involvement and have avoided tracheotomy with aggressive and timely pharmacotherapeutic intervention and close clinical surveillance. Early recognition of laryngeal manifestations of sarcoidosis and airway compromise is essential to provide patients with conservative management without the need for aggressive surgical intervention.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology*
  • Airway Obstruction / surgery
  • Dyspnea / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Diseases / complications
  • Laryngeal Diseases / ethnology*
  • Laryngeal Diseases / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sarcoidosis / complications
  • Sarcoidosis / ethnology*
  • Sarcoidosis / surgery
  • Tracheotomy
  • Voice Disorders / etiology
  • Voice Quality