Lymphadenopathy and multisystem illness involving the skin, liver, lung, and lacrimal and salivary glands are commonly seen in sarcoidosis. Arthritis, constitutional symptoms, and eosinophilia are also compatible features.


Tissue Biopsy

granulomas in lymph nodes



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Alcohol can interfere with the function of each of these components, thereby causing impotence, infertility, and reduced male secondary sexual characteristics.1 In the testes, alcohol can adversely affect the Leydig cells, which produce and secrete the hormone testosterone. Studies found that heavy alcohol consumption results in reduced testosterone levels in the blood. Alcohol also impairs the function of the testicular Sertoli cells that play an important role in sperm maturation. In the pituitary gland, alcohol can decrease the production, release, and/or activity of two hormones with critical reproductive functions, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. Finally, alcohol can interfere with hormone production in the hypothalamus.




Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease characterized by the presence of noncaseating granulomas.

The disease is often multisystem and requires the presence of involvement in two or more organs for a specific diagnosis. The finding of granulomas is not specific for sarcoidosis, and other conditions known to cause granulomas must be ruled out.

These conditions include mycobacterial and fungal infections, malignancy, and environmental agents such as beryllium.

Although sarcoidosis can affect virtually every organ of the body, the lung is most commonly affected. Other organs commonly affected are the liver, skin, and eye.


peribronchial thickening and reticular nodular changes, which are predominantly subpleural. The peribronchial thickening seen on CT scan seems to explain the high yield of granulomas from bronchial biopsies performed for diagnosis.



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Complications of Injecting Drug Use

  • Local problems—Abscess (Figures 240-2 
    Image not available.

    A 32-year-old woman with type 1 diabetes developed large abscesses all over her body secondary to injection of cocaine and heroin. Her back shows the large scars remaining after the healing of these abscesses. (Courtesy of ­Richard P. Usatine, MD.)

    and 240-3; Abscess), cellulitis, septic thrombophlebitis, local induration, necrotizing fasciitis, gas gangrene, pyomyositis, mycotic aneurysm, compartmental syndromes, and foreign bodies (e.g., broken needle parts) in local areas.2
    • IDUs are at higher risk of getting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA) skin infections that the patient may think are spider bites (Figure 240-4).
    • Some IDUs give up trying to inject into their veins and put the cocaine directly into the skin. This causes local skin necrosis that produces round atrophic scars (Figure 240-5).
  • IDUs are at risk for contracting systemic infections, including HIV and hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
    • Injecting drug users are at risk of endocarditis, osteomyelitis (Figures 240-6and 240-7), and an abscess of the epidural region. These infections can lead to long hospitalizations for intravenous antibiotics. The endocarditis that occurs in IDUs involves the right-sided heart valves (see Chapter 50, Bacterial Endocarditis).2 They are also at risk of septic emboli to the lungs, group A β-hemolytic streptococcal septicemia, septic arthritis, and candidal and other fungal infections.


The clinical outcome of sarcoidosis varies, with remission occurring in over one-half of patients within a few years of diagnosis; however, the remaining patients may develop a chronic disease that lasts for decades.

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You are seeing Mr. Blanko, a 55-year-old white man with a history of sarcoidosis. He ran out of prednisone about 2 months prior to seeing you and, except for some constipation, feels well. A metabolic panel reveals a calcium of 12.2 mg/dL (normal up to 10.5 mg/dL). You know that sarcoidosis can be associated with hypercalcemia. Which of the following is the correct mechanism for sarcoidosis-associated hypercalcemia?

The answer is D.  Hypercalcemia and/or hypercalciuria occurs in about 10% of sarcoidosis patients. It is more common in whites than African Americans and in men. The mechanism of abnormal calcium metabolism is increased production of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D by the granuloma itself. The 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D causes increased intestinal absorption of calcium, leading to hypercalcemia with a suppressed parathyroid hormone (PTH) level. Increased exogenous vitamin D from diet or sunlight exposure may exacerbate this problem. Serum calcium should be determined as part of the initial evaluation of all sarcoidosis patients, and a repeat determination may be useful during the summer months with increased sun exposure.


A 75-year-old triathlete complains of gradually worsening vision over the past year. It seems to be involving near and far vision. The patient has never required corrective lenses and has no significant medical history other than diet-controlled hypertension. He takes no regular medications. Physical examination is normal except for bilateral visual acuity of 20/100. There are no focal visual field defects and no redness of the eyes or eyelids. Which of the following is the most likely diagnosis?

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The correct answer is A. You answered A.

Age-related macular degeneration is a major cause of painless, gradual bilateral central visual loss. It occurs as nonexudative (dry) or exudative (wet) forms. Recent genetic data have shown an association with the alternative complement pathway gene for complement factor H. The mechanism link for that association is unknown. The nonexudative form is associated with retinal drusen that leads to retinal atrophy. Treatment with vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc may retard the visual loss. Exudative macular degeneration, which is less common, is caused by neovascular proliferation and leakage of choroidal blood vessels. Acute visual loss may occur because of bleeding. Exudative macular degeneration may be treated with intraocular injection of a vascular endothelial growth factor antagonist (bevacizumab or ranibizumab). Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids usually related to acne rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, or staphylococcal infection. Diabetic retinopathy, now a leading cause of blindness in the United States, causes gradual bilateral visual loss in patients with long-standing diabetes. Retinal detachment is usually unilateral and causes visual loss and an afferent pupillary defect.


Mr. Jenson is a 40-year-old man with a congenital bicuspid aortic valve who you have been seeing for more than a decade. You obtain an echocardiogram every other year to follow the progression of his disease knowing that bicuspid valves often develop stenosis or regurgitation requiring replacement in middle age. Given his specific congenital abnormality, what other anatomic structure is important to follow on his biannual echocardiograms?

Aortic root size

Left atrial size

Pulmonary artery pressures

Pulmonic valve function

Tricuspid valve regurgitation

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The correct answer is A. You answered A.

The answer is A. (Chap. 282) Bicuspid aortic valve is among the most common of congenital heart cardiac abnormalities. Valvular function is often normal in early life and thus may escape detection. Due to abnormal flow dynamics through the bicuspid aortic valve, the valve leaflets can become rigid and fibrosed, leading to either stenosis or regurgitation. However, pathology in patients with bicuspid aortic valve is not limited to the valve alone. The ascending aorta is often dilated, misnamed “poststenotic” dilatation; this is due to histologic abnormalities of the aortic media and may result in aortic dissection. It is important to screen specifically for aortopathy because dissection is a common cause of sudden death in these patients.


All of the following have been implicated in the proposed pathogenesis of sarcoidosis EXCEPT:

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The correct answer is E. You answered D.

The answer is E. Despite multiple investigations, the cause of sarcoidosis remains unknown. Currently, the most likely etiology is an infectious or noninfectious environmental agent that triggers an inflammatory response in a genetically susceptible host. Among the possible infectious agents, careful studies have shown a much higher incidence of Propionibacterium acnes in the lymph nodes of sarcoidosis patients compared to controls. An animal model has shown that P acnes can induce a granulomatous response in mice similar to sarcoidosis.

Others have demonstrated the presence of a mycobacterial protein (Mycobacterium tuberculosis catalase-peroxidase [mKatG]) in the granulomas of some sarcoidosis patients. This protein is very resistant to degradation and may represent the persistent antigen in sarcoidosis. Immune response to this and other mycobacterial proteins has been documented by another laboratory. These studies suggest that a Mycobacterium similar to M tuberculosis could be responsible for sarcoidosis. The mechanism of exposure/infection with such agents has been the focus of other studies. Environmental exposures to insecticides and mold have been associated with an increased risk for disease. In addition, healthcare workers appear to have an increased risk. Also, sarcoidosis in a donor organ has occurred after transplantation into a sarcoidosis patient. Some authors have suggested that sarcoidosis is not due to a single agent but represents a particular host response to multiple agents. Some studies have been able to correlate the environmental exposures to genetic markers. These studies have supported the hypothesis that a genetically susceptible host is a key factor in the disease. Although helper T cells may be increased, particularly in the lung of patients with sarcoidosis, it is not a monoclonal or malignant expansion of cells.



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