Sclerosing mediastinitis: a report on 18 cases.
BACKGROUND--Sclerosing mediastinitis is a rare condition which causes dense fibrosis of the mediastinum. Few large studies have been reported to date. The clinical and pathological features of cases have been studied in a specialist referral centre in the UK. METHODS--The pathological files of the Royal Brompton Hospital were examined and 18 cases of sclerosing mediastinitis were identified between 1970 and 1993. The clinical notes were obtained and the pathological specimens analysed. RESULTS--There were 12 men and six women of age range 9-64 years. Twelve patients presented with shortness of breath, six had haemoptysis, three had hoarseness, four had pleuritic chest pain, three general weakness, two had dysphagia, and one was asymptomatic. Nine patients had a previous history of pulmonary tuberculosis. Two had auto-immune disease--one rheumatoid arthritis and the other systemic lupus erythematosus. There were three cases of previous malignancy--two undifferentiated carcinoma of the lung and the other Hodgkin's disease. Serological tests revealed only one positive reaction to Histoplasma. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate and serum immunoglobulins were raised in nine patients. Diagnosis was usually by thoracotomy with biopsy. All cases had fibrosis and chronic inflammation with no active granulomas. No infective organisms or positive cultures were obtained in any case. Ten of the 18 cases are alive up to 15 years after diagnosis, with only two deaths and six lost to follow up. CONCLUSIONS--Sclerosing mediastinitis is a slowly progressive condition associated with previous tuberculosis, mediastinal malignancy, and autoimmune disease. The outlook is excellent for those cases without underlying malignancy.