Rheumatoid pleural effusion is generally responsive to corticosteroids, but refractory cases require consideration of second-line therapy. Here we report the case of a 61-year-old man with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who developed a large right-sided pleural effusion and was successfully treated with abatacept. Thoracocentesis showed a sterile exudate and an elevated adenosine deaminase level. The methotrexate and etanercept used to treat the RA were withheld initially while he underwent a trial of prednisolone 40 mg/day for the pleural effusion. However, the effusion did not respond to this therapy. Thoracoscopic biopsy of the right pleura revealed fibrotic changes with lymphocyte infiltration mainly composed of CD4+ T cells and B cells but no evidence of malignancy or infection. The patient was started on abatacept and resumed methotrexate. The treatment was effective in our case. Abatacept should be considered as a treatment option in patients with refractory rheumatoid pleural effusion.
Keywords: biological agents; rheumatoid arthritis.
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