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