Cocaine-induced granulomatosis with polyangiitis-an under-recognized condition

Charn Gill, Joseph Sturman, Leyla Ozbek, Scott R Henderson, Aine Burns, Sally Hamour, Ruth J Pepper, Lisha McClelland, Dimitrios Chanouzas, Simon Gane, Alan D Salama, Lorraine Harper*

*Corresponding author for this work

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OBJECTIVES: Cocaine and cocaine mixed with levamisole are increasingly used in the UK and result in significant direct nasal damage in addition to promoting vasculitis. Our aims were as follows: (1) to identify the main symptoms and presentation of cocaine-induced vasculitis; (2) to provide evidence regarding the best practice for the investigation and diagnosis of cocaine-induced vasculitis; and (3) to analyse the clinical outcomes of patients in order to understand the optimal management for the condition.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective case series analysis of patients presenting with cocaine-induced midline destructive lesions or vasculitis compatible with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) from two large tertiary vasculitis clinics between 2016 and 2021.

RESULTS: Forty-two patients (29 Birmingham, 13 London) with cocaine-induced midline lesions or systemic disease were identified. The median age was 41 years (range 23-66 years). Current cocaine use was common, and 20 of 23 samples provided were positive when routine urine toxicology was performed; 9 patients who denied ever using cocaine were identified as using cocaine based on urine toxicology analysis, and 11 who stated they were ex-users still tested positive. There was a high incidence of septal perforation (75%) and oronasal fistula (15%). Systemic manifestations were less common (27%), and only one patient had acute kidney injury. Fifty-six per cent of our patients were PR3-ANCA positive, with none testing positive for MPO-ANCA. Symptom remission required cocaine discontinuation even when immunosuppression was administered.

CONCLUSION: Patients with destructive nasal lesions, especially young patients, should have urine toxicology performed for cocaine before diagnosing GPA and considering immunosuppressive therapy. The ANCA pattern is not specific for cocaine-induced midline destructive lesions. Treatment should be focused on cocaine cessation and conservative management in the first instance in the absence of organ-threatening disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberrkad027
JournalRheumatology Advances in Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Rheumatology.


  • cocaine
  • drug-induced vasculitis
  • matosis with polyangiitis
  • ANCA
  • treatment


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