ID: 158
Category: Skin Condition
CreatedBy: 1
UpdatedBy: 1
createdon: 11 Feb 2023
updatedon: 06 Apr 2023

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Author: Khoa Tran
Published Feb 11, 2023
Updated Apr 06, 2023

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Etymology and Pronunciation

Vasculitis  (vask-yoo-LY-tis)
vasculum - Greek for "small vessel"
-itis - Greek for "inflammation"

History of Vasculitis

In 1801, a Scottish pathologist named William Heberden described a condition that involved inflammation of the arteries in a paper published to the "Medical Transactions of the Royal College of Physicians of London". He described a condition that involved inflammation of the arteries, which he called "arteritis". Although Heberden did not use the term "vasculitis" his description of the inflammatory process in the arteries laid the groundwork for our understanding of this group of diseases.

In the early 1900s, a French physician named Jules Jean Baptiste Vincenty described a patient with a rare form of vasculitis that involved inflammation of the blood vessels in the skin. This condition came to be known as "leukocytoclastic vasculitis" or "cutaneous small vessel vasculitis".

In the 1920s and 1930s, German pathologists discovered other forms of vasculitis, including "giant cell arteritis" and "Wegener's granulomatosis". These conditions were characterized by inflammation of the larger blood vessels and were associated with significant morbidity and mortality.

During the mid-20th century, advances in diagnostic techniques, such as angiography and biopsy, allowed for more accurate diagnosis of vasculitis. In the 1960s, researchers identified the presence of immune complexes in the blood vessels of patients with vasculitis, suggesting an autoimmune etiology.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the discovery of specific antibodies associated with certain forms of vasculitis, such as antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA) in Wegener's granulomatosis and microscopic polyangiitis.

Modern Understanding of Vasculitis

Vasculitis is a group of autoimmune diseases where the immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the walls of these blood vessels causing inflammation and restricted blood flow.

There are several types of vasculitis, including Wegener's granulomatosis, Microscopic polyangiitis, Churg-Strauss syndrome, Henoch-Schönlein purpura, Takayasu's arteritis, Giant cell arteritis, and Kawasaki disease, among others. 

Symptoms of vasculitis can vary depending on the type and severity of the disease, but common symptoms can include fatigue, fever, weight loss, joint pain, and skin rashes. In severe cases, vasculitis can lead to serious problems such as kidney failure, heart attacks, and strokes. The severity and location of the blood vessel inflammation will determine the specific symptoms experienced by the patient.

The diagnosis of vasculitis is typically made through a combination of physical examination, blood tests, biopsy, and imaging studies. 

Some forms of vasculitis are associated with the presence of a specific antibody called antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA). The exact cause of each type is not well understood. Some forms of vasculitis are associated with other autoimmune diseases, while others are believed to be caused by infections or other environmental factors.

Causes of Vasculitis

The causes of vasculitis are not fully understood, but it is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own blood vessels. Some forms of vasculitis are also associated with viral or bacterial infections.

There are many different types of vasculitis, which can affect different organs and blood vessels in the body. The exact cause of each type of vasculitis may vary, but some of the general factors that may contribute to the development of vasculitis include:

- Genetics: Certain genetic factors may make an individual more susceptible to developing vasculitis.
- Infections: Some forms of vasculitis are triggered by viral or bacterial infections, such as hepatitis B or C, streptococcal infections, or HIV.
- Environmental factors: Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins may increase the risk of developing vasculitis.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as antibiotics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may trigger vasculitis in some people.
- Autoimmune disorders: People with autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, may be more likely to develop vasculitis.

The specific cause of vasculitis may be difficult to determine, and a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare provider is often necessary to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment plan.

Treatments for Vasculitis

Treatment for vasculitis typically involves a combination of medications, including steroids and immune suppressants, as well as biologic therapy in some cases. The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and prevent further damage to the blood vessels. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace damaged blood vessels.

In addition to traditional medical treatment, there are also several complementary medicine approaches that may help manage the symptoms of vasculitis. These may include physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, stress management, and dietary changes.

It is important for individuals with vasculitis to receive regular follow-up care and to work closely with their healthcare provider to monitor their condition and ensure proper treatment. Support groups can also provide valuable resources and emotional support for individuals with vasculitis and their families.


Painful small inflamed bumps on your arms, face, neck or back
Red spots on skin
Weight loss
Skin redness

Confirmation Tests

- Physical examination
- Blood test
- CT scan
- X-rays
- Biopsy

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