Bronchiectasis is defined as irreversibly damaged and dilated bronchi and is one of the most common pulmonary manifestations in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The model of RA-associated autoimmunity induced in some individuals by chronic bacterial infection in bronchiectasis is becoming increasingly acceptable, although a genetic predisposition to RA-associated bronchiectasis has also been demonstrated. Bronchiectasis should be suspected in RA patients with chronic cough and sputum production or frequent respiratory infections and the diagnosis must be confirmed by thoracic high-resolution computed tomography. Management of patients with RA-associated bronchiectasis includes a multimodal treatment approach. Similar to all patients with non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis, patients with RA-associated bronchiectasis benefit from a pulmonary rehabilitation program, including an exercise/muscle strengthening program and an education program with a specific session on airway clearance techniques. Prophylactic antibiotics are recommended for patients with frequent (3 or more infective exacerbations per year) or severe infections requiring hospitalization/intravenous antibiotics and inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting β2-agonists should be used in patients with non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis and associated airway hyper-responsiveness. In patients with RA-associated bronchiectasis the use of immunomodulatory drugs has to be carefully considered, as they are essential to control disease activity, despite being associated with an increased infectious risk. Pneumococcal and influenza vaccines are advised to all patients with RA-associated bronchiectasis in order to reduce the risk of infection. Patients with RA-associated bronchiectasis have a poorer prognosis than those with either RA or bronchiectasis alone and require regular follow-up, under the joint care of a rheumatologist and a pulmonologist.
Copyright © 2020 Société française de rhumatologie. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.