Misdiagnosis of sarcoidosis in patients with chronic beryllium disease

Elizabeth Fireman*, Ela Haimsky, Meira Noiderfer, Israel Priel, Yehuda Lerman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aim: Sarcoidosis (SA) is a chronic systemic disorder characterized by infiltration of inflammatory cells in affected organs, resulting in the formation of granulomas. Granulomas are observed in numerous infectious diseases and hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., beryllium). Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) is a multisystem entity caused by dust, fumes or mists of beryllium metal or its salts. Although beryllium has been used for years by several industries in Israel, no case of CBD had ever been reported until recently when we described a 21-year-old female dental technician with CBD who was originally diagnosed as having SA. We launched the current investigation to test the hypothesis that other cases of CBD in Israel were not previously reported because these patients were misdiagnosed as having SA. Methods: Forty-seven patients with confirmed-SA from our outpatient clinic were recalled in order to reevaluate their occupational exposure history. We performed the beryllium lymphocyte transformation test (BeLTT) on each patient with a potentially positive environmental exposure anamnesis to beryllium (14/47). Results: Two of the 14 patients with evidence of granulomas in lung tissue (pulmonary involvement) and 1/14 with extrapulmonary involvement who all had a positive occupational exposure to beryllium and a positive BeLTT test had been erroneously diagnosed as having SA instead of CBD. Conclusion: Our findings emphasize the vital importance of taking a comprehensive occupational history in the clinical evaluation of patients suspected of having SA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-148
Number of pages5
JournalSarcoidosis Vasculitis and Diffuse Lung Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003


  • Berylliosis
  • Chronic Beryllium Diseases
  • Sarcoidosis


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