Wegener's Granulomatosis (cont.)
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA or Wegener's Granulomatosis) facts
- What is granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA)?
- What are symptoms of granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA)?
- How is granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA)?
- What is the prognosis for granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA)?
What is the treatment for granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA)?
Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) is a serious disease and without treatment can be fatal within months. Treatment is directed toward stopping the inflammation process by suppressing the immune system.
Medications used to treat GPA include high-dose cortisone (prednisone) and the immunosuppressive drug cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). Recent reports also suggest that trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim) can also be helpful to prevent relapse of disease activity in patients with GPA.
Cytoxan that is taken by mouth with prednisone until the disease is in remission and then switched to methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall) for two years and tapered off has been reported to be effective and less toxic than the traditional long-term Cytoxan treatment.
Learn more about: Cytoxan
Methotrexate has recently been introduced as a drug for Cytoxan treatment failures. Moreover, it now appears that Cytoxan will not be necessary in order to maintain long-term remission and that doctors can convert to the less toxic methotrexate for maintenance. The reports also demonstrate that methotrexate can eventually be tapered off entirely after two years. Azathioprine (Imuran) has also been used as a maintenance medication after Cytoxan. Recently, intravenous immunoglobulin therapy (IVIG) has been shown to be helpful in treating relapses of granulomatosis with polyangiitis. Studies suggest that rituximab (Rituxan) may be helpful to maintain remission once the initial inflammatory disease has been controlled using medications mentioned above. These new regimens are welcome news for patients with GPA as medical researchers are searching for better treatments.
Learn more about: Imuran
What is the prognosis for granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA)?
The prognosis for granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) depends on which organs are involved, to what degree they are involved, the duration of the disease, and the response to treatment. Today, with an optimal response to treatment, persons with GPA can lead normal lives.
Medically reviewed by Kirkwood Johnston, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Rheumatology
Koopman, William, et al., eds. Clinical Primer of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003.
Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, W B Saunders Co, edited by Shaun Ruddy, et al., 2000.American College of Rheumatology National Meeting, November 2005, 2006, 2007.
UpToDate.Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of granulomatosis with polyangiitis and microscopic polyangiitis.
Get the latest treatment options