Polyarteritis nodosa

Alternative Names

Periarteritis nodosa

Definition of Polyarteritis nodosa

Polyarteritis nodosa is a serious blood vessel disease in which small and medium-sized arteries become swollen and damaged.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Polyarteritis nodosa is a disease of unknown cause that affects arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood to organs and tissues. It occurs when certain immune cells attack the affected arteries.

Symptoms

Symptoms result from damage to affected organs, often the skin, heart, kidneys, and nervous system.

Signs and tests

There are no specific lab tests for diagnosing polyarteritis nodosa. Diagnosis is based on the physical examination and a few laboratory studies that help to confirm the diagnosis:

Treatment

Treatment involves medications to suppress the immune system, including prednisone and cyclophosphamide.

Expectations (prognosis)

Current treatments using steroids and other drugs that suppress the immune system (such as cyclophosphamide) can improve symptoms and the chance of long-term survival. The most serious associated conditions generally involve the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. Without treatment, the outlook is poor.

Review

Mark James Borigini, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 9/7/2010

Polyarteritis, microscopic on the shin
Microscopic polyarteritis 2
Circulatory system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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