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Should nasal biopsy inevitably be performed for classifying granulomatosis with polyangiitis in patients with rhinosinusitis? A retrospective chart review study


Nasal biopsy is the essential method for differentiating and diagnosing granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis. Nevertheless, in the real clinical settings, there are several cases unable for nasal biopsy. Hence, in this study, we investigated initial clinical manifestations and laboratory factors which could be helpful for diagnosing GPA in cases unable for nasal biopsy performance. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 45 patients with GPA. Twenty-five patients exhibited chronic rhinosinusitis, among which 16 patients underwent nasal biopsy. We applied the 2007 European Medicines Agency algorithm for the classification of GPA, the 2012 Chapel Hill Consensus Conferences Nomenclature of Vasculitis and the 2017 American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism provisional classification criteria for GPA to them for reclassifying GPA. Among six patients without granuloma on nasal biopsy, three patients with only antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA) and chronic rhinosinusitis could be classified as GPA due to proteinase 3 (PR3)-ANCA (or cytoplasmic (C)-ANCA) positivity. Among nine patients without nasal biopsy, three patients with only chronic rhinosinusitis could be classified as GPA due to GPA-specific lung lesions. When we excluded an item of granuloma in ten GPA patients with granuloma on nasal biopsy, four patients without ANCAs could be classified as GPA due to GPA-specific lung lesions and cartilaginous involvement. In conclusion, PR3-ANCA (or C-ANCA) positivity, GPA-specific lung lesions and cartilaginous involvement could help physicians in charge make a final diagnosis of GPA in cases unable for nasal biopsy.

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The authors thank Mr. Minyoung Kevin Kim for correcting and revising English.


This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (2017R1D1A1B03029050) and a grant from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, funded by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea (HI14C1324).

Author information




JY, SSA and SWL collected the data and analysed the results and wrote the manuscript, under the guidance of SMJ and JJS; YBP contributed to writing and critically reviewed the manuscript; JY and SWL designed, analysed the results, critically reviewed the manuscript and wrote the final version. All the authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sang-Won Lee.

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All the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All the procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Severance Hospital (4-2017-0673), and the patient’s written informed consent was waived by the approving IRB, as this was a retrospective study.

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Yoo, J., Ahn, S.S., Jung, S.M. et al. Should nasal biopsy inevitably be performed for classifying granulomatosis with polyangiitis in patients with rhinosinusitis? A retrospective chart review study. Rheumatol Int 39, 885–892 (2019).

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  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis
  • Nasal biopsy
  • PR3-ANCA
  • Lung
  • Cartilage