ACE, or angiotensin-converting enzyme — Levels of this enzyme are increased in the blood of some patients with sarcoidosis. Blood testing can check for this enzyme. ACE levels can be elevated in other illnesses and normal in patients with sarcoidosis.

Acute sarcoidosis — The appearance of the disease over a short period of time.

Adenopathy — A swelling or enlargement of lymph nodes.

Alveoli — The tiny sac-like air spaces in the lung where carbon dioxide and oxygen are exchanged. (Alveolus is singular.)

Alveolitis — Inflammation of the alveoli.

AnemiaAny condition in which the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells is lower than normal. Symptoms of anemia include pale skin color, shortness of breath, irregular heart beat, and fatigue.

Berylliosis (also known as chronic beryllium disease [CBD]) — A lung disease resembling sarcoidosis that results from exposure to beryllium metal. This disease represents an example of a disease caused by environmental exposure.

BiopsyA sampling of small portions of body tissues to look for inflammation or granulomas to aid in the diagnosis of sarcoidosis.

Bronchoalveolar lavage — Fluid obtained from the lung by bronchoscopy. It can be used to look for infection or signs of sarcoidosis.

Bronchodilators — Medications that cause the bronchial air passages of the lungs to expand, which makes breathing easier.

Bronchoscope — A long, narrow tube with a light at the end that is used by the doctor for direct observation of the airways, as well as for sampling of tissue and other materials.

Cardiomyopathy — Disease of the heart muscle.

Chest X-ray — A test that provides a picture of the lungs, heart and surrounding lymph nodes that can aid in the diagnosis of sarcoidosis and show how much of the lung tissue is affected by the disease.

Chronic sarcoidosis — The ongoing appearance of the disease. The disease is considered chronic when granulomas keep forming and causing scarring of the tissue of the affected organ.

Cirrhosis — Chronic liver disease that interferes with normal liver function.

Conjunctivitis — Inflammation of the membrane of the eye and eyelid.

Cor pulmonale — An enlargement of the right side of the heart resulting from disease in the lungs or its blood vessels. The damage and scarring of the lung and pulmonary blood vessels can make it more difficult for the heart to pump blood through the lungs.

CT (computed tomography) scanA type of X-ray that provides a more detailed look at the lungs and lymph glands than that provided by a chest X-ray.

Cyst — An abnormal sac-like growth containing a gas, fluid, or a semisolid material.

Cytopenia — A deficiency in the amounts of certain blood cells.

Diagnosis — The art of identifying a disease from its signs and symptoms.

Diffusion capacity — Refers to a breathing test that addresses how well the lungs can transfer oxygen from the air to the blood.

Dyspnea — Shortness of breath.

Dysrhythmia — An abnormal heart rhythm (electrical activity).

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) — A test that checks that electrical activity of the heart.

Enzyme — A substance, made by living cells, that causes specific chemical changes.

Erythema nodosum — Red, tender bumps that tend to appear on the face, arms, and shins of some patients with acute sarcoidosis.

Fibromyalgia — A condition of unknown cause that resembles some characteristics of arthritis in that it is often accompanied by painful, tender, and stiff muscles and joints.

Fibrotic tissue — Inflamed tissue that has become scarred.

Gallium scan — A test in which a radioactive material is injected into the body to view the extent of the spread of sarcoidosis in the body.

Genetic — The inherited code for human structure and function.

Granulomas — Small lumps that form in tissues as the result of a collection of inflammatory cells. The cells collect because of an abnormal immune system response.

Heart block — Lack of a coordinated heartbeat due to a defect in electrical activity of the heart.

Hilar adenopathy — Enlargement of the lymph glands at the root of the lung.

Hypercalcemia — An increase level of calcium in the blood.

Hypercalciuria — An increase level of calcium in the urine.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) — Abnormally high arterial blood pressure.

Hypoxia/hypoxemia — A lower than normal level of oxygen in the body’s blood and/or tissues.

Immune response — The reaction of the immune system against foreign substances. When the reaction occurs against the body’s own cells or tissues, it is called an autoimmune reaction.

Immune system — A complex system of chemicals and special blood cells that protect the body from germs, such as viruses and bacteria, which invade it.

Immunosuppressive drugs — Drugs that suppress the immune response and can be used to treat autoimmune disease.

Infection — Invasion of the body tissues by bacteria or other tiny organisms that cause illness.

Inflammation — A reaction of tissues to injury or disease, typically marked by four signs: swelling, redness, warmth, and pain.

Lavage — To wash out a body organ.

Lesion — Destruction of tissue resulting from an inflammatory process.

Lofgren’s syndrome — A subtype or form of sarcoidosis with an acute onset that enlarges the lymph nodes, and is accompanied by a skin condition that produces red nodules under the skin, as well as fever and arthritis pains. Patients with this type usually have a good prognosis; the disease generally resolves on its own.

Lupus pernio — A chronic skin condition marked by purple-colored lesions on the cheeks, lips, nose, and ear.

Lymph nodes — Small, bean-shaped organs of the immune system distributed throughout the body tissue.

Mediastinoscopy — A surgical biopsy of the lymph nodes in the chest cavity that requires general anesthesia and a small incision.

Meningitis — An inflammation of the tissue of the brain and spinal cord that, if left untreated, can result in confusion, convulsions, coma, and death.

Multiorgan (multisystem) disease — A disease that affects more than one part of the body.

Nodule — A lump, swelling, or mass.

PET scan — A test in which a radioactive material is injected into the body to view the extent of the spread of sarcoidosis in the body.

Portal hypertension — Hypertension that occurs in the liver that hinders proper functioning.

Pulmonary fibrosis — A scarring of lung tissue. Scarred tissue stiffens the lungs and destroys the air sacs, making breathing more difficult.

Pulmonary function tests — Tests that measure how well the lungs are working (expanding and exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood).

Pulse oximetry — A measurement of the amount of oxygen in the blood. The oxygen level is measured by attaching a sensor to a patient’s finger. If the oxygen level is low, your doctor may recommend the use of supplemental oxygen.

Purified protein derivative — This is a type of skin test that is sometimes used to help establish the diagnosis of sarcoidosis or rule in/out other similar diseases involving the lungs, such as tuberculosis.

Sclera — The outer coat of the eyeball.

Slip lamp examination — An examination that looks at the inside of the eye and is used to detect eye-related problems caused by sarcoidosis.

Spirometry — A type of breathing test or pulmonary function test that measures changes in air flow as a person inhales and exhales, as well as the overall volume of air exhaled.

Trigger — Something that either sets off a disease in people who are genetically predisposed to developing the disease, or that causes a certain symptom to occur in a person who has a disease. For example, sunlight can trigger rashes in people with lupus.

Uveitis — Inflammation of the middle layer of the eye.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/04/2015.


  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What Is Sarcoidosis? Accessed 2/14/2015.
  • American Lung Association. Sarcoidosis Accessed 2/14/2015.

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