Effectiveness of Rituximab for the Otolaryngologic Manifestations of Granulomatosis With Polyangiitis (Wegener's)




Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) involvement is the most prevalent manifestation of granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's) (GPA) and correlates with permanent damage and decreased quality of life. Although prior studies have evaluated the efficacy of rituximab (RTX) for granulomatous features of GPA, none have evaluated its efficacy solely for ENT manifestations. We compared the effectiveness of RTX to other therapies for the ENT manifestations of GPA in a large, well-characterized cohort.


We performed a retrospective analysis of 975 visits from 99 GPA patients seen at a tertiary care ENT practice between 2003 and 2013. At each visit, subjects had a complete ENT examination, with ENT activity assessed by a single expert otolaryngologist. ENT disease activity during the observational period in subjects receiving RTX was compared to subjects receiving all other therapy.


In total, 48 subjects had never received RTX and 51 received RTX at least once. There was no active ENT disease during 92.4% of the observational period (days) for subjects receiving RTX, compared with 53.7% of the observational period for subjects not receiving RTX (odds ratio 11.0 [95% confidence interval 5.5–22.0], P < 0.0001). Subjects receiving RTX, compared with those receiving methotrexate, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, were significantly more likely to have no active ENT disease (P < 0.0001 for each comparison).


RTX is an effective treatment for ENT manifestations of GPA. Subjects treated with RTX were significantly less likely to have active ENT disease compared with those not receiving RTX. Patients being treated with RTX were 11 times less likely to have active ENT disease than patients being treated with other therapies.