Multidisciplinary approach to connective tissue disease (CTD) related pleural effusions: a four-year retrospective evaluation.
Published on Aug 27, 2019in BMC Pulmonary Medicine2.813
· DOI :10.1186/S12890-019-0919-2
CTD-related pleural effusions are rare and challenging to diagnose. Our lung inflammation service (with expertise in rheumatology, interstitial lung disease and respiratory failure) works closely with the pleural team. This study aims to review the multidisciplinary approach to CTD-related pleural effusions at a tertiary centre. All patients with CTD-related pleural effusions at St Thomas’ Hospital, London were included. Retrospective data were collected from Dec 2013 to 2016. The lung inflammation service performed an expert clinical assessment and targeted investigations. 11 patients (ages 23–77) were identified with CTD related pleural disease. 9 (82%) patients were given a new CTD diagnosis, with pleural disease as the first manifestation. The range of conditions were: rheumatoid arthritis  ,IgG4-related disease  ,adult Still’s disease  ,vasculitis  ,SLE  ,drug-induced lupus  ,and Behcet’s . The pleural team review took place 1 day (median) after referral. 73% of diagnoses (8 patients) were achieved with local anaesthetic pleural interventions (a combination of: aspiration, drain, or percutaneous biopsy). This included 1 patient who required no pleural intervention. 1 required medical thoracoscopy, and 2 underwent thoracic surgery. Diagnoses were made by integrating all available evidence such as clinical assessment, imaging, and autoimmune serology. No diagnosis was achieved by pleural cytology or histology analysis alone. 8 (73%) were commenced on prednisolone acutely (vasculitis, SLE, drug-related lupus, 1 patient with rheumatoid arthritis, Behcet’s, 2 patients with Adult Still’s disease, 1 patient with IgG4-related disease). Of these 8, one patient with rheumatoid arthritis received IV methylprednisolone beforehand, one patient with IgG4-related disease was weaned off prednisolone to methothrexate, two patients with Adult Still’s disease were on colchicine as well, and one patient with Behcet’s was on cyclophosphamide as well. 7 (64%) were managed as outpatients; 4 required admission. The median time from pleural review to diagnosis was 53 days. Diagnosis can be challenging in patients presenting with pleural disease as the first manifestation of a CTD. We recommend a multidisciplinary approach in management.
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