Rethinking Ormond's disease: "idiopathic" retroperitoneal fibrosis in the era of IgG4-related disease

Medicine (Baltimore). 2013 Mar;92(2):82-91. doi: 10.1097/MD.0b013e318289610f.


Idiopathic retroperitoneal fibrosis (RPF) is a periaortic sclerotic disease that encases adjacent retroperitoneal structures, particularly the ureters. A subset of idiopathic RPF cases can be associated with IgG4-related disease, but the frequency of this association is not clear. We selected 23 cases of idiopathic RPF and identified IgG4-related RPF cases based on the presence of IgG4+ plasma cells in the tissue, using an IgG4/IgG ratio cutoff of >40%. We then compared the IgG4-related RPF patients and the non-IgG4-related RPF patients in terms of both the presence of histopathologic features typical of IgG4-related disease and the simultaneous occurrence (or history) of other organ manifestations typical of IgG4-related disease. The IgG4-related RPF and non-IgG4-related RPF groups were also analyzed in terms of clinical, laboratory, and radiologic features and treatment review. We identified 13 cases of IgG4-related RPF (57% of the total cohort). The distinguishing features of IgG4-related RPF were histopathologic and extra-organ manifestations of IgG4-related disease. The IgG4-related RPF patients were statistically more likely than non-IgG4-related RPF patients to have retroperitoneal biopsies showing lymphoplasmacytic infiltrate (p = 0.006), storiform fibrosis (p = 0.006), or tissue eosinophilia (p = 0.0002). Demographics of the 2 groups, including a middle-aged, male predominance (mean age, 58 yr; 73% male), were similar. IgG4-related disease accounts for a substantial percentage of patients with "idiopathic" RPF. Histopathologic features such as storiform fibrosis, obliterative phlebitis, and tissue eosinophilia are critical to identifying this disease association. Extraretroperitoneal manifestations of IgG4-related disease are also often present among patients with IgG4-related RPF. Elevated IgG4/total IgG ratios in tissue biopsies are more useful than the number of IgG4+ plasma cells per high-power field in cases of RPF that are highly fibrotic.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Retroperitoneal Fibrosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Retroperitoneal Fibrosis / drug therapy
  • Retroperitoneal Fibrosis / immunology*
  • Retroperitoneal Fibrosis / pathology
  • Retroperitoneal Space / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Immunoglobulin G