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How is vasculitis diagnosed?
Laboratory testing of blood or body fluids in a patient with active vasculitis generally indicates inflammation in the body. Depending on the degree of organ involvement, a variety of organ function tests can be abnormal.
The diagnosis of vasculitis is definitively established after a biopsy of involved tissue demonstrates the pattern of blood vessel inflammation. Examples of tissues used for biopsy include skin, sinuses, lung, nerve, and kidney. Depending upon the situation, an alternative to biopsy can be an X-ray test of the blood vessels called an angiogram, which can demonstrate characteristic patterns of inflammation in affected blood vessels.
How is vasculitis treated?
The treatment of the various forms of vasculitis is based on the severity of the illness and the organs involved. Treatments are generally directed toward stopping the inflammation and suppressing the immune system. Typically, cortisone-related medications, such as prednisone , are used. Additionally, other immune suppression drugs, such as cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) and others, are considered. Additionally, affected organs (such as the heart or lungs) may require specific medical treatment when the disease is active.
The management of vasculitis is an evolving field in medicine. The ideal programs for monitoring and treatment will continue to improve as disease patterns and causes are defined by medical research.
Medically reviewed by a Board Certified Family Practice Physician
Koopman, W. J., et al. Clinical Primer of Rheumatology. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2003
Gary. S., et.al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. Elsevier Saunders. Firestein, 2012