Research Article

Do beta-adrenoceptor blocking drugs cause retroperitoneal fibrosis?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 287 doi: (Published 03 September 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;287:639
  1. J P Pryor,
  2. W M Castle,
  3. D C Dukes,
  4. J C Smith,
  5. M E Watson,
  6. J L Williams


    The aetiology of retroperitoneal fibrosis is unknown. From time to time different drugs have been suggested as a cause, including beta adrenoceptor blocking agents. The notes of 100 hospital inpatients in whom retroperitoneal fibrosis had been diagnosed were surveyed to identify the date of onset of symptoms, the drugs prescribed before then, and the blood pressures on admission. Seventy one patients had diastolic pressures on admission of 90 mm Hg or more and 53 of these had pressures of at least 100 mm Hg despite 14 of the patients taking anti-hypertensive drugs at the time. Six patients had received beta-adrenoceptor blocking agents before the onset of symptoms and a further 24 received them subsequently. In particular, three patients continued treatment for at least six years after the diagnosis was made and surgery performed, without suffering a recurrence of retroperitoneal fibrosis. Besides beta-adrenoceptor drugs, diuretics and other hypotensive drugs were taken in amounts reflecting the pattern of drug use among hypertensive patients generally. Rather than being causal agents, the antihypertensive drugs were probably being used to treat hypertension associated with the retroperitoneal fibrosis, and our findings suggest that beta-adrenoceptor blocking agents do not cause retroperitoneal fibrosis.