Vasculitis - 2001 National Meeting Reports (cont.)

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.

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

Wegener's Granulomatosis

Wegener's granulomatosis classically involves inflammation of the arteries that supply blood to the tissues of the lungs, the nasal passages (sinuses), and the kidneys. There are "incomplete" forms of the disease that only involve one of these areas. Symptoms of Wegener's granulomatosis include fatigue, weight loss, fevers, shortness of breath, bloody sputum, joint pains, and sinus inflammation (sinusitis). Nasal ulcerations and even blood nasal discharge can occur. Other areas of the body that can also become inflamed in patients with Wegener's granulomatosis include the eyes, the nerves (neuropathy), the middle ear (otitis media), and the skin, which results in skin nodules or ulcers.

Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) that is taken by mouth with prednisone until the disease is in remission and then switched to methotrexate for 2 years and tapered off was effective and less toxic than the traditional long-term Cytoxan treatment.