Cocaine-Induced Vasculitis

Rambam Maimonides Med J. 2016 Oct 31;7(4):e0036. doi: 10.5041/RMMJ.10263.


The use of cocaine continues to grow worldwide. One of the possible side-effects of cocaine is vasculitis. Two distinct vasculitic syndromes have been described due to cocaine. One is cocaine-induced midline destructive lesion, secondary to a direct vasoconstrictor effect of cocaine, inducing ischemic necrosis of the septal cartilage and perforation of the nasal septum, mimicking findings of granulomatosis with polyangiitis in the upper airways. The other is ANCA-associated vasculitis, attributed to the levamisole component that contaminates about 70% of the cocaine. This type of vasculitis may be myeloperoxidase (MPO) and proteinase 3 (PR3) positive, and its main manifestations are typical cutaneous findings, arthralgia, otolaryngologic involvement, and agranulocytosis. A high degree of suspicion and awareness is needed in order properly to diagnose and treat these patients.

Publication types

  • Review