What Are Some Treatment Options for Wegener's Lung Disease?

What Are Some Treatment Options for Wegener's Lung Disease?

Doctors usually treat Wegener's granulomatosis with medications, such as corticosteroids and immune suppressants, and with biologic therapy, explains Mayo Clinic. If standard treatments are ineffective, a physician may opt to use experimental medications. Other treatments include plasmapheresis and surgery.

Wegener's granulomatosis, also referred to as granulomatosis with polyangiitis, or GPA, usually affects a person's upper respiratory tract as well as his lungs and kidneys, according to Mayo Clinic. This disease causes inflammation of blood vessels, restricting the blood flow to various organs. GPA produces granulomas around the blood vessels, which can destroy normal tissue. The cause of GPA is unknown, and early treatment and diagnosis can potentially lead to a full recovery. If left untreated, GPA is potentially fatal.

Corticosteroids, including prednisone, suppress a patient's immune system and treat GPA's early signs and symptoms, reports Mayo Clinic. Other immunosuppressive medications, including azathioprine, methotrexate and cyclophosphamide, are usually necessary to work against the body's immune reaction. Rituximab is a type of biologic therapy that reduces the number of B cells in a patient's body, which are cells involved with inflammation.

Due to side effects of medications used to treat GPA, such as a patient's body being unable to fight off infections, the physician may prescribe additional medications. These include sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim to combat lung infections, bisphosphonates to prevent bone loss and folic acid to prevent signs and symptoms of folate depletion.

Beyond medication, plasmapheresis, or a plasma exchange, can treat GBA. This procedure involves separating the plasma and blood cells before putting the blood cells back into the patient's body, explains Mayo Clinic. The body then produces new plasma. If GPA has caused kidney failure, a kidney transplant may be necessary.