Rheumatoid arthritis (pulmonary manifestations)

Last revised by Andrew Murphy on 7 Feb 2023

Pulmonary manifestations are relatively common in rheumatoid arthritis, and like many of its non-articular manifestations, tend to develop later in the disease.

Please refer to the related articles for a general discussion of rheumatoid arthritis, and for the specific discussion of its musculoskeletal manifestations.

Although rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women, respiratory disease more commonly develops in men 6.

Respiratory symptoms are often absent, or non-specific such as dyspnea and chronic cough. 

Patterns of lung involvement include interstitial, airway and pleural disease.

Pleural involvement is a common manifestation of rheumatoid arthritis, although usually asymptomatic. 

  • pleural thickening: is seen more commonly than pleural effusions
  • pleural effusions: occur late in the disease, are often unilateral and associated with pericarditis and subcutaneous nodules 5

Other manifestations include:

Chest radiograph may show: 

Chest CT or HRCT features include:

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Updating… Please wait.

 Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.