Vasculitis refers to a group of uncommon diseases that are all characterized by the inflammation of blood vessels. Some types of vasculitis are acute (short-term), while others are chronic (long-term). There is currently no cure for vasculitis, but early diagnosis and treatment are critical for helping to ease symptoms and hinder the progression of the disease.
Vasculitis is one of the more than 100 causes of arthritis that we treat at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Arthritis and Joint Diseases. We treat vasculitis in all of its forms, including Kawasaki disease, Behcet's disease, polyarteritis nodosa, granulomatosis with polyangiitis (formerly known as Wegener's granulomatosis), cryoglobulinemia, Takayasu's arteritis, Churg-Strauss syndrome, giant cell arteritis (temporal arteritis), and Henoch-Schönlein purpura. All of our rheumatologists are trained and experienced in the treatment of the various vasculitic disorders. Other sub-specialists are often involved in the care of patients with vasculitis, depending on the type.
The cause of vasculitis is unknown in many of its forms. These types are vasculitis are referred to as primary vasculitis. Secondary vasculitis refers to forms of vasculitis that are caused by an underlying disease, such as:
Symptoms of vasculitis vary according to which blood vessels and organ systems are affected. Symptoms that many people with vasculitis experience include:
To diagnose vasculitis, your doctor typically will begin by going through your medical history and conducting a thorough physical exam. Tests and procedures that may be used for diagnosing vasculitis include:
Treatment for vasculitis depends on the severity of the illness and the organs involved. Vasculitis treatment options include the following medications:
To learn more about our vasculitis services or to make an appointment with a Brigham and Women’s Hospital vasculitis specialist, please call 1-800-294-9999 or use our online appointment request form.