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Overview of lung disease associated with rheumatoid arthritis

Fiona R Lake, MD, FRACP
Section Editors
Kevin R Flaherty, MD, MS
Eric L Matteson, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
Helen Hollingsworth, MD


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a generally progressive, systemic autoimmune process characterized by chronic symmetrical erosive synovitis. Nonarticular manifestations of RA include subcutaneous nodules, vasculitis, pericarditis, mononeuritis multiplex, and episcleritis [1]. The lung and pleura are also frequent sites of extraarticular involvement by RA, but may not result in significant symptoms.

The pleuropulmonary manifestations of RA include [2-7]:

Rheumatoid-associated parenchymal lung disease including interstitial disease and pulmonary nodules (table 1)

Pleuropulmonary infection, related to RA and drug-induced immunosuppression

Large and small airway obstruction


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Jun 4, 2015.
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