Diagnoses of chronic beryllium disease within cohorts of sarcoidosis patients

J. Müller-Quernheim*, K. I. Gaede, Elizabeth Fireman, G. Zissel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An increase in chronic beryllium disease (CBD) has been suggested due to higher industrial us of beryllium alloys. Since occupational CBD is a perfect phenocopy of sarcoidosis, it might be misdiagnosed as sarcoidosis. In the current it was hypothesised that CBD exists in cohorts of sarcoidosis patients. In a prospective case study, sarcoidosis patients were evaluated for potential beryllium exposure. In those patients in whom beryllium exposure was confirmed and beryllium hypersensitivity demonstrated, the diagnosis of sarcoidosis was rejected and corrected to CBD. In 84 patients seen for re-evaluation or making a diagnosis of sarcoidosis, beryllium exposure was recognised and a diagnosis of CBD was made in 34 out of 84 patients. The time lag between clinical diagnosis of sarcoidosis and the final diagnosis of CBD ranged 0-18 yrs (median 3 yrs) and the mean (range) age at time of diagnosis of CBD was 43.9(25-80) yrs. Beryllium-contaminated workplaces causing disease encompassed a wide spectrum of industries and technical trades in which beryllium-exposure is generally not perceived as a health hazard. In conclusion, chronic beryllium disease still belongs to the spectrum of differential diagnoses of granulomatous disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1190-1195
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic beryllium disease
  • Diagnosis
  • Lymphocyte proliferation test
  • Sarcoidosis


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