Vasculitis Diagnosis and Treatment by Mercy Rheumatologists

Rheumatology at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

There are many types of vasculitis, a condition that causes inflammation in the blood vessels of the body. Most types of vasculitis are rare are require the care of an experienced doctor, such as the rheumatologists at Mercy Medical Center.

About the Condition

Vasculitis can occur when your body mistakenly attacks your blood vessels. An infection, other disease (including some rheumatic conditions) or reaction to a new medicine may cause vasculitis.

Vasculitis produces inflammation of the blood vessels, which can cause the walls of the blood vessels to thicken, weaken, narrow or scar, all of which can impact blood flow. Decreased blood flow can damage the organ or tissue supplied by the compromised blood vessel.

The are many different forms of vasculitis. The disease can be either acute or chronic and it can affect one or several organs.

NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Symptoms of vasculitis are typically related to decreased blood flow and can include:

  • Fever
  • Aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness or weakness in a hand or foot
  • Loss of pulse in a limb

Your doctor may order one or more of the tests below to aid in the diagnosis of vasculitis:

  • Blood  test
  • Urine test
  • Angiography (X-ray of blood vessels)
  • Imaging test
  • Biopsy
NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

Treatment for vasculitis will depend on the type of vasculitis as well as the severity of the condition and which organs are affected. Typically there are two phases of treatment - first, reducing and controlling the inflammation and second, preventing new flare-ups. For both phases prescription drugs are often used. 

Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle may help relieve symptoms or side effects of the medications being used for treatment. 

Early treatment of severe vasculitis can be important for preventing damage to organs and tissue. In severe cases surgery may be necessary to redirect blood flow.