Systemic vasculitis

Poonam K Sharma, Sanjeev Sharma, Richard Baltaro, John Hurley

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24 Scopus citations

Abstract

The systemic vasculitides are characterized by inflammation of blood vessel walls. Vessels of any type, in any organ can be affected, resulting in a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms. The heterogenous nature of vasculitides presents a diagnostic challenge. The American College of Rheumatology classification criteria and the Chapel Hill Consensus Conference nomenclature are the most widely used to distinguish different forms of vasculitis. The Chapel Hill Consensus Conference nomenclature defnes 10 primary vasculitides based on vessel size (large, medium, and small). The diagnosis relies on the recognition of a compatible clinical presentation supported by specific laboratory or imaging tests and confirmatory histology. Antineutrophilic cytoplasmic antibody testing has been of particular benefit in defining a subgroup of small vessel vasculitides. Treatment is based on clinical presentation and the pattern of organ involvement. Glucocorticoids are the primary treatment for many forms of vasculitis. Additional immunosuppressive agents, including methotrexate and cyclophosphamide, are sometimes required. Newer approaches, such as the use of anti-tumor necrosis factor or B cell therapies, are being tried in resistant cases. Patients can experience considerable treatment-related toxicity, especially infection from immunosuppressive therapy and adverse effects from steroids (e.g., osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus, cataract). Vitamin D and calcium prophylaxis are recommended in patients on long-term steroid therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)556-565
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Family Physician
Volume83
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2011

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Family Practice

Cite this

Sharma, P. K., Sharma, S., Baltaro, R., & Hurley, J. (2011). Systemic vasculitis. American Family Physician, 83(5), 556-565.