Sarcoidosis is a multisystem granulomatous disorder of unknown etiology and most commonly affects young adults. Most studies have shown the highest of incidence in the third and fourth decades with a variable female predominance. It is most commonly seen in people of African or Scotch-Irish decent. Patients with sarcoidosis most often present with abnormal chest x-rays. Sarcoidosis can effect all vital organs including the eye, central nervous system, the bones and joints, the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the heart, and the kidneys.
Thoracic sarcoidosis has been classified in four stages based on the appearance of the chest radiograph:
- Stage I – bilateral hilar lymphadenopathy
- Stage II – bilateral hilar adenopathy plus pulmonary opacities
- Stage III – pulmonary opacities only
- Stage IV – irreversible pulmonary fibrosis
Most patients with thoracic sarcoidosis present with Stage II or III disease. Sometimes the patient is asymptomatic, but more commonly patients present with shortness of breath, cough or chest tightness.