Original Article

CME Article: Common Variable Immune Deficiency: An Outpatient Experience

Authors: Carmen Popa, MD, Robert Fischer, MBBS, Shamai Kurbitaeva, MD, Keyvan Ravakhah, MD


Objectives: Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) is one of the most common primary immunodeficiencies encountered by physicians, yet it is still poorly described and vastly underdiagnosed and underreported. It is characterized by low levels of immunoglobulins IgG, IgM, and IgA, recurrent infections, and an increased incidence of autoimmune conditions and malignancies. Diverse clinical presentation, poor understanding of its true prevalence, and the daunting, rarely ordered, diagnostic testing make this disease incredibly difficult to diagnose in a primary care setting. Our objectives in this study were to establish a simple marker that can be used in a primary care setting to raise suspicion of CVID and prompt further diagnostic testing and to demonstrate that the true prevalence of CVID is much higher than previously reported.

Methods: Data on 441 patients who underwent Ig electrophoresis testing during a 4-year period were analyzed retrospectively for the presence of hypogammaglobulinemia and number of clinic visits for infectious processes.

Results: The average number of clinic visits before testing in patients with no identified antibody deficiency was 1.89 and in patients with any deficiency 2.22. The odds ratio for each additional visit was 1.089, which was not statistically significant (P = 0.103). When the data were recoded to be capped at 6 clinic visits, the odds ratio for each visit up to 6 was 1.119, which was marginally significant (P = 0.058).

Conclusions: Patients with Ig deficiencies tend to have a higher number of office visits related to infectious processes. This difference, however, was not statistically significant in our study, likely because of the small number of participants. Our study also demonstrated that the prevalence of CVID is likely much higher than currently reported, and it highlights the difficulties related to the convoluted diagnostic process of this disease.
Posted in: Allergy and Immunology8 Autoimmune Systemic Disorders2

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