Sarcoidosis is a multisystem disorder of unknown aetiology characterised by non-caseating granulomas. It is more common in young adults and in people of African descent


Syndromes associated with sarcoidosis

Lofgren's syndrome is an acute form of the disease characterised by bilateral hilar lymphadenopathy (BHL), erythema nodosum, fever and polyarthralgia. It usually carries an excellent prognosis

In Mikulicz syndrome* there is enlargement of the parotid and lacrimal glands due to sarcoidosis, tuberculosis or lymphoma

Heerfordt's syndrome (uveoparotid fever) there is parotid enlargement, fever and uveitis secondary to sarcoidosis

*this term is now considered outdated and unhelpful by many as there is a confusing overlap with Sjogren's syndrome


  • Incidence: 7.00 cases per 100,000 person-years
  • Peak incidence: 40-50 years
  • Sex ratio: 1:1
Condition Relative
Extrinsic allergic alveolitis0.14
<1 1-5 6+ 16+ 30+ 40+ 50+ 60+ 70+ 80+

Clinical features



There is no one diagnostic test for sarcoidosis and hence diagnosis is still largely clinical. ACE levels have a sensitivity of 60% and specificity of 70% and are therefore not reliable in the diagnosis of sarcoidosis although they may have a role in monitoring disease activity. Routine bloods may show hypercalcaemia (seen in 10% if patients) and a raised ESR

A chest x-ray may show the following changes:
  • stage 0 = normal
  • stage 1 = bilateral hilar lymphadenopathy (BHL)
  • stage 2 = BHL + interstitial infiltrates
  • stage 3 = diffuse interstitial infiltrates only
  • stage 4 = diffuse fibrosis

Other investigations*
  • spirometry: may show a restrictive defect
  • tissue biopsy: non-caseating granulomas
  • gallium-67 scan - not used routinely

© Image used on license from Radiopaedia
Chest x-ray and CT scan showing stage 2 sarcoidosis with both bilateral hilar lymphadenopathy + interstitial infiltrates. The reticulonodular opacities are particularly noted in the upper zones. Remember that pulmonary fibrosis (which this case has not yet progressed to) may be divided into conditions which predominately affect the upper zones and those which predominately affect the lower zones - sarcoidosis is one of the former. The CT of the chest demonstrates diffuse areas of nodularity predominantly in a peribronchial distribution with patchy areas of consolidation particularly in the upper lobes. There is some surrounding ground glass opacities. No gross reticular changes to suggest fibrosis.

*the Kveim test (where part of the spleen from a patient with known sarcoidosis is injected under the skin) is no longer performed due to concerns about cross-infection


Indications for steroids
  • patients with chest x-ray stage 2 or 3 disease who have moderate to severe or progressive symptoms. Patients with asymptomatic and stable stage 2 or 3 disease who have only mildly abnormal lung function do not require treatment
  • hypercalcaemia
  • eye, heart or neuro involvement


Factors associated with poor prognosis
  • insidious onset, symptoms > 6 months
  • absence of erythema nodosum
  • extrapulmonary manifestations: e.g. lupus pernio, splenomegaly
  • CXR: stage III-IV features
  • black people


Lofgren's syndrome