Reports From National Arthritis Meeting

Dr. Shiel Gives Perspectives Of Interest On Vasculitis From 2001 Annual Scientific Meeting Of The American College Of Rheumatology

Below are perspectives on key reports presented at the recent national meeting of the American College of Rheumatology:

Introduction

Vasculitis is a general term for a group of uncommon diseases that feature inflammation of the blood vessels. The blood vessels of the body are referred to as the vascular system. The blood vessels are composed of arteries, which pass oxygen-rich blood to the tissues of the body, and veins, which return oxygen-depleted blood from the tissues to the lungs for oxygen. Vasculitis is characterized by inflammation in and damage to the walls of the various blood vessels.

Each of the vasculitis diseases (also, as a group, referred to as vasculitides) is defined by certain patterns of distribution of blood vessel involvement, particular organ involvement, and laboratory test abnormalities. The diagnosis of vasculitis is confirmed by a biopsy of involved tissue or angiography. The treatment is directed toward decreasing the inflammation of the arteries and improving the function of affected organs.