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Vasculitis: Introduction

Vasculitis is an inflammation of any of the blood vessels of the body. This includes the arteries, arterioles, capillaries, veins and venules. Vasculitis can result in many manifestations in any organ or body system and can lead to potentially serious complications, such as heart attack, stroke, aneurysm of the lungs, and arteritis. In some cases vasculitis can be fatal.

Vasculitis can be caused by a number of autoimmune disorders. In an autoimmune disorder the body's immune system sees normal cells and tissues of the body as potentially dangerous invaders and attacks them. Vasculitis can also occur for unknown reasons.

Vasculitis can affect all sizes and types of arteries and veins in the body. This results in a wide variety of symptoms and complications that can affect almost any part of the body. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of vasculitis.

Underlying disorders that can cause vasculitis include Behcet's syndrome, which causes inflammation of blood vessels of nearly all sizes and types. Wegener's granulomatosis affects the sinuses, nose, ears, kidneys, lungs, and trachea. Temporal arteritis affects the temporal artery that is located in the temple area of the head. Polyarteritis nodosa affects the small and medium arteries of the body. Takayasu's arteritis affects large blood vessels, especially the aorta, the largest artery of the body.

Making a diagnosis of vasculitis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. There is no single test to diagnose vasculitis or its underlying cause. Diagnosis is based on compiling and evaluating symptoms in conjunction with medical history and a variety of tests. Many tests are performed to evaluate general health and help to determine damage to tissues and organs and complications that may be caused by suspected vasculitis.

An angiogram may be done to reveal any narrowing of arteries. Tests may also include a complete blood count (CBC), which can detect infection, anemia, and bleeding. An erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is a blood test that can detect if an inflammatory process is occurring in the body. An urinalysis may detect damage to the kidneys. Imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT scan, MRI, and ultrasound can detect damage that has occurred in many organs. An ECG and echocardiogram can detect damage to the heart. A pulmonary function test can evaluate how well the lungs are functioning.

It is possible that a diagnosis of vasculitis can be missed or delayed because there is no specific diagnostic test for it, and because some symptoms can resemble symptoms of other diseases, disorders, and conditions. For more information on misdiagnosis and disease and conditions that can mimic vasculitis, refer to misdiagnosis of vasculitis.

Treatment of vasculitis varies depending on the underlying disorder, the severity of symptoms, complications, the person's age and medical history, and other factors. Treatment may include medication. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of vasculitis. ...more »

Vasculitis: Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessel system, which includes the veins, arteries, and capillaries. Vasculitis may affect blood ... more about Vasculitis.

Vasculitis: Inflammation of a blood or lymph vessel. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Vasculitis is available below.

Vasculitis: Symptoms

The types and severity of symptoms of vasculitis vary greatly depending on the underling disorder and the blood vessels affected. Any blood vessel in the body, including small to large arteries and veins, can become inflamed and result in symptoms. Manifestations can appear in many areas of the body and run the gamut from mild to severe, and some complications ...more symptoms »

Vasculitis: Treatments

The treatment plan for vasculitis varies depending on the underlying disorder, the severity of symptoms, the presence of complications, a person's age and medical history, and other factors. Vasculitis cannot be cured, but treatment can help to reduce symptoms and minimize the develoment of serious complications, such as meningitis, blindness and aneurysm of the lungs.

...more treatments »

Vasculitis: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of vasculitis may be delayed or missed because there is no specific test to diagnose the disorder. A diagnosis of vasculitis can be difficult to make and requires numerous tests and evaluations before the diagnosis is reached.

In addition, symptoms of vasculitis can be similar to symptoms of many other diseases and conditions. These include ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Vasculitis

Treatments for Vasculitis

Wrongly Diagnosed with Vasculitis?

Vasculitis: Related Patient Stories

Types of Vasculitis

Vasculitis: Complications

Read more about complications of Vasculitis.

Causes of Vasculitis

Read more about causes of Vasculitis.

More information about causes of Vasculitis:

Disease Topics Related To Vasculitis

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Vasculitis:

Prognosis for Vasculitis

Prognosis for Vasculitis: The prognosis for individuals with vasculitis varies depending on the severity of the disorder. Mild cases of vasculitis are generally not life-threatening, while severe cases (involving major organ systems) may be permanently disabling or fatal. (Source: excerpt from NINDS Vasculitis including Temporal Arteritis Information Page: NINDS)

Research about Vasculitis

Visit our research pages for current research about Vasculitis treatments.

Clinical Trials for Vasculitis

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Vasculitis include:

Vasculitis: Broader Related Topics

Vasculitis Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Vasculitis, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Vasculitis

Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessel system, which includes the veins, arteries, and capillaries. Vasculitis may affect blood vessels of any type, size, or location, and therefore can cause dysfunction in any organ system, including the central and peripheral nervous systems. (Source: excerpt from NINDS Vasculitis including Temporal Arteritis Information Page: NINDS)

Definitions of Vasculitis:

Inflammation of a blood vessel. - (Source - Diseases Database)

Inflammation of a blood vessel - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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