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An inflammatory disease marked by the formation of granulomas (small nodules of immune cells) in the lungs, lymph nodes, and other organs. Sarcoidosis may be acute and go away by itself, or it may be chronic and progressive. Also called sarcoid.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)


Sarcoidosis (sar-koy-DO-sis) is a disease of unknown cause that leads to inflammation. This disease affects your body's organs.

Normally, your immune system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. For example, it sends special cells to protect organs that are in danger.

These cells release chemicals that recruit other cells to isolate and destroy the harmful substance. Inflammation occurs during this process. Once the harmful substance is gone, the cells and the inflammation go away.

In people who have sarcoidosis, the inflammation doesn't go away. Instead, some of the immune system cells cluster to form lumps called granulomas (gran-yu-LO-mas) in various organs in your body.


Sarcoidosis can affect any organ in your body. However, it's more likely to affect some organs than others. The disease usually starts in the lungs, skin, and/or lymph nodes (especially the lymph... Read more about Sarcoidosis

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Efficacy and safety of convex probe EBUS-TBNA in sarcoidosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

BACKGROUND AND AIM: Real-time endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) is a minimally invasive technique for diagnosis of mediastinal lymphadenopathy. Although most studies have reported the utility of EBUS-TBNA in malignancy, its use has been extended to benign conditions including sarcoidosis. Herein, we perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies reporting the diagnostic yield and safety of EBUS-TBNA in sarcoidosis.

The use of 18F-FDG PET in the diagnosis of cardiac sarcoidosis: a systematic review and metaanalysis including the Ontario experience

This review concluded that 18F-fluro-2-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography had high accuracy for the diagnosis of cardiac sarcoidosis. There were limitations in the search strategy, review methods and analysis. The conclusion appears optimistic given the wide range of sensitivity and specificity estimates reported and the small number of participants upon which these were based.

Efficacy and safety of conventional transbronchial needle aspiration in sarcoidosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

BACKGROUND: Flexible bronchoscopic procedures are currently the most often employed technique for demonstrating granulomatous inflammation in sarcoidosis. Conventional transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA) has been used for over 3 decades; however, it remains an underutilized technique, primarily due to the wide variations in the reported success rates and unconfirmed safety concerns. Herein we perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies to estimate the diagnostic yield and safety of TBNA in sarcoidosis.

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Summaries for consumers

Immunosuppressive and cytotoxic therapy for pulmonary sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis is a condition that can affect most of the organs in the body, including the lungs, heart, brain, bones, liver and skin. Patients who have severe disease or those who do not respond to treatment with steroids are often given powerful agents that suppress the immune system in an attempt to control the disease. However, these drugs have severe side effects. There is no evidence at the moment that the benefits of these drugs outweigh their side effects.

Corticosteroids for pulmonary sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis is a common disease that can affect several parts of the body. The cause of the disease is unknown, and it often gets better without treatment. Sarcoidosis is more likely among some ethnic groups (including African‐Americans and African‐Caribbeans), for whom the disease has worse outcomes. When sarcoidosis affects the lungs, it can cause breathlessness, coughs, and lung problems, and lead to more complications and death. The review of trials found that using corticosteroids for lung sarcoidosis leads to some short‐term benefit in terms of chest x‐ray, but there is limited evidence that this benefit lasts or affects the long term outcomes of the disease.

Chloroquine as a steroid sparing agent for asthma

Asthma can be treated with drugs which aim to reduce inflammation in the airways. Inhaled corticosteroids are frequently used, but occasionally individuals require oral steroids for adequate control. However, oral steroids are frequently associated with severe side‐effects. Chloroquine has been suggested as a useful 'add‐on' therapy to oral steroid treatment with the aim of reducing the dose requirement in such asthma. This review found one small cross‐over study but this did not provide adequate evidence to decide whether chloroquine should be offered to reduce or eliminate oral steroid treatment. There is a need for well‐designed trials addressing this question before recommendations can be made.

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Terms to know

Describes something that happens suddenly and for a short time. Opposite of chronic, or long lasting.
Refers to disorders that last a long time, often years. Chronic is the opposite of acute, or brief.
Eyes are the organs of vision. They detect light and convert it.
Granuloma is an inflammation found in many diseases. It is a collection of immune cells known as macrophages. Granulomas form when the immune system attempts to wall off substances that it perceives as foreign but is unable to eliminate.
Redness, swelling, pain, and/or a feeling of heat in an area of the body. This is a protective reaction to injury, disease, or irritation of the tissues.
The largest abdominal organ. The liver carries out many important functions, such as making important blood proteins and bile, changing food into energy, and cleaning alcohol and poisons from the blood.
One of a pair of organs in the chest that supplies the body with oxygen, and removes carbon dioxide from the body.
Lymph Nodes
A rounded mass of lymphatic tissue that is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. Lymph nodes filter lymph (lymphatic fluid), and they store lymphocytes (white blood cells). They are located along lymphatic vessels. Also called lymph gland.
The outer covering of the body that protects it from the environment.

More about Sarcoidosis

Photo of an adult

Also called: Boeck's sarcoidosis, Besnier-Boeck-Schaumann syndrome, Boeck's sarcoid, Benign lymphogranulomatosis, Darier-Roussy sarcoid, Lupus pernio of Besnier, Miliary lupoid of Besnier, Sarcoid

Other terms to know: See all 9
Acute, Chronic, Eye

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