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    Polyarteritis nodosa

    Periarteritis nodosa

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

    Causes

    Polyarteritis nodosa is a disease that affects arteries, the blood vessels that carryoxygen-rich blood to organs and tissues. The cause is unknown, but it occurs when certain immune cells attack the affected arteries.

    More adults than children get this disease. The tissues that are fed by the affected arteries do notget the oxygen and nourishment they need, and become damaged.

    People with active hepatitis B and C may develop this disease.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms are caused by damage to affected organs, often the skin, heart, kidneys, and nervous system.

    Symptoms include:

    If nerves are affected, you may have numbness, pain, burning, and weakness. Damage to the nervous system may cause strokes or seizures.

    Exams and Tests

    No lab tests are available to diagnose polyarteritis nodosa. You will have a physical examination.

    Lab teststhat can helpconfirm the diagnosis include:

    • Arteriogram
    • Complete blood count (CBC)
    • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-reactive protein (CRP)
    • Tissue biopsy

    Treatment

    Treatmentuses medications to suppress the immune system, including steroids such as prednisone. Often, similar medications, such as cyclophosphamide, are used.

    For polyarteritis nodosa that is related to hepatitis, treatment may involve plasmapheresis and antiviral medicines.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Current treatmentswith steroids and other drugs that suppress the immune system (such as cyclophosphamide) can improve symptoms and the chance of long-term survival.

    The most seriouscomplications usually involve the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract.

    Without treatment, the outlook is poor.

    Possible Complications

    • Heart attack
    • Intestinal necrosis and perforation
    • Kidney failure
    • Stroke

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of this disorder. Early diagnosis and treatment may improve the chance of a good outcome.

    Prevention

    There is no known prevention. However, early treatment can prevent some damage and symptoms.

    References

    Sergent JS. Polyarteritis and related disorders. In: Harris ED Jr., Budd RC, Genovese MC, Firestein GS, Sargent JS, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008: chap 83.

    Stone JH. The systemic vasculitides. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011: chap 278.

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      Tests for Polyarteritis nodosa

        Review Date: 7/8/2012

        Reviewed By: Ariel D. Teitel, MD, MBA, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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