Polyarteritis Nodosa (PAN)

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Polyarteritis nodosa (PAN) facts

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  • Polyarteritis nodosa is an autoimmune disease that affects arteries.
  • Common areas affected include the muscles, joints, intestines (bowels), nerves, kidneys, and skin.
  • Diagnosis of polyarteritis nodosa is confirmed by a biopsy of involved tissue or angiography.
  • Treatment is directed toward decreasing the inflammation of the arteries.

What is polyarteritis nodosa (PAN)?

Polyarteritis nodosa is a rare autoimmune disease featuring spontaneous inflammation of the arteries (arteritis, a form of blood vessel inflammation or "vasculitis"). Autoimmune diseases are characterized by an overactive, misdirected immune system that attacks one's own body. Because arteries are involved, the disease can affect any organ of the body. The most common areas of involvement include the muscles, joints, intestines (bowels), nerves, kidneys, and skin. Poor function or pain in any of these organs can be a symptom. Poor blood supply to the bowels can cause abdominal pain, local bowel death, and bleeding. Fatigue, weight loss, and fever are common. Polyarteritis nodosa is often abbreviated PAN.

What are causes and risk factors for polyarteritis nodosa?

Polyarteritis nodosa is most common in middle-age people. Its cause is unknown, but it has been reported after hepatitis B infection. Polyarteritis is not felt to be an inherited condition.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/5/2016

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Polyarteritis Nodosa - Patient Experience Question: Tell us about your experience with polyarteritis nodosa?

I have been diagnosed with polyarteritis nodosa (PAN). How does PAN differ from lupus?

Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD

Polyarteritis nodosa is a type of inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis) that affects medium- and large-sized arteries. Depending on which blood vessels are involved and specifically the tissues they supply, injury can occur to internal organs, such as the kidneys or bowel.