Study objectives: The aims of this study were to investigate the frequency of pulmonary problems in Behçet disease (BD), and to discuss lesser-known features of pulmonary BD such as clinical characteristics, analysis of prognosis, and evaluation of treatment options with respect to the previously published cases.
Design: We conducted a comprehensive review of the literature to analyze cumulated data about pulmonary involvement in BD.
Setting: We found 159 articles regarding pulmonary disease associated with BD in May 2003.
Patients: The evaluation of these articles demonstrated 598 pulmonary problems in 585 cases.
Results: Pulmonary artery aneurysms (PAAs) are the most common pulmonary lesion in BD, and these are almost always associated with hemoptysis. Seventy-eight percent of patients with aneurysms have concomitant extrapulmonary venous thrombi or thrombophlebitis. Other pulmonary problems are reported in BD, and these are principally related to vascular lesions and radiologic abnormalities.
Conclusions: Pulmonary vascular problems, either PAA or involvement of small-sized vessels, are the main pulmonary disorders in BD. Immunopathologic findings indicate that the underlying pathogenesis is pulmonary vasculitis, which may result in thrombosis, infarction, hemorrhage, and PAA formation. Patients with small nonspecific radiologic abnormalities should be followed up closely since early diagnosis of vascular lesions may be life-saving. Immunosuppression is the main therapy for the treatment of a vasculitis. It is important that pulmonary angiitis is not mistaken for pulmonary thromboembolic disease since fatalities have occurred in BD shortly after initiation of anticoagulation/thrombolytic treatment.