The clinical and radiologic features of nodular pulmonary sarcoidosis

Lung. 2009 Jan-Feb;187(1):9-15. doi: 10.1007/s00408-008-9118-2. Epub 2008 Oct 9.


Study objectives: Nodular sarcoidosis is an uncommon presentation of sarcoidosis. Our objective was to describe the clinical characteristics of a large cohort of patients with nodular sarcoidosis.

Methods: We performed a retrospective study of patients with nodular sarcoidosis diagnosed at an urban teaching hospital over a 10-year period.

Results: Thirty-three patients with nodular sarcoidosis were identified. All patients were African-American. The mean age was 35 and the female-to-male ratio was 5:1. Twenty-six patients were current or former smokers. All patients had chest CT scan and/or chest radiograph evidence of pulmonary masses. Twenty-seven patients had multiple pulmonary masses/nodules and six had solitary pulmonary nodules/masses. The upper lobes were involved in 27 patients. Mediastinal lymphadenopathy and pleural-based masses were present in 30 and 20 patients, respectively. Extrapulmonary manifestations were present in 14 patients. All patients had tissue diagnosis of noncaseating granulomas with negative culture. Twenty-two patients underwent bronchoscopy with transbronchial biopsies, which were diagnostic in 19. Follow-up data were available on 27 patients: complete or nearly complete resolution of the pulmonary masses--either spontaneously or with systemic treatment--was documented for 19 patients, no change in the radiologic findings for 7 patients, and progression to pulmonary fibrosis for 1 patient.

Conclusions: Nodular sarcoidosis is a rare presentation of pulmonary sarcoidosis. It usually presents with multiple pulmonary masses that tend to be peripheral and are associated with mediastinal lymphadenopathy. Bronchoscopy with transbronchial biopsies has high diagnostic yield. Despite its ominous presentation, nodular sarcoidosis has favorable prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Biopsy
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / diagnosis
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / pathology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones