Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels (arteries, veins or capillaries). It occurs when the patient’s immune system mistakenly attacks a blood vessel. The inflammation can cause weakening or narrowing of the vessels, which can cut off blood flow to internal organs. Although the cause is unknown, vasculitis often follows an infection. It may also be the result of another disease or medications. Vasculitis is rare in children.
At Children’s Health℠, we work closely with both you and your primary care provider so that everyone involved has the information they need to create the best outcomes for your child.
Symptoms of vasculitis will vary based on which blood vessels are involved and how blood flow to the organs is being affected. Common symptoms of vasculitis may include:
There are several tests to diagnose vasculitis in children. A doctor will go over your child's medical history and perform a physical exam. Your healthcare provider may also perform one or more of the following tests:
Not every child needs all these tests. Your physician will tell you exactly what the next steps are. Each year, the specialists at Children’s Health see more than 1,000 pediatric patients for vasculitis and other rheumatic disorders. We have the skills and resources necessary to provide comprehensive and compassionate care for your child too.
The severity of your child’s vasculitis and which organs are affected will determine the treatment. The goal of vasculitis treatment is to reduce the inflammation in the affected blood vessels. Your healthcare provider may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
Children’s Health is part of the largest and longest established multi-specialty clinic for children with rheumatic diseases in the region. In our rheumatology clinic, dedicated health care professionals help patients and their families manage diseases like vasculitis.
Children’s Health uses a multidisciplinary approach to caring for your child. This allows us to offer our patients care from multiple specialists and experts, in a single appointment, at one location. If your child has symptoms of vasculitis, contact us. We provide the comprehensive and individualized care necessary to put your child back on the path to a healthy life.
For more information on vasculitis, refer to the following resources:
Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels (arteries, veins, or capillaries).
In most cases, the exact cause of vasculitis is unknown. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, a disease in which the immune system attacks healthy organs or tissue (in this case, the blood vessels). It can sometimes be triggered by other autoimmune disorders (such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma), infection, certain blood cancers (such as leukemia or lymphoma), or in reaction to certain medications.
There are many types of vasculitis; they differ based on which blood vessels are affected.
If your child has symptoms of vasculitis, you should have her evaluated by a physician. Symptoms of vasculitis will vary, based on which blood vessels are involved and how blood flow to the organs is affected. Common symptoms of vasculitis may include fever, fatigue, weight loss, muscle and joint pain, cough, shortness of breath, purple or red spots on the skin, and numbness or weakness.
Tests used to diagnose vasculitis include blood tests, urine tests, X-rays, imaging studies, biopsies, and angiograms.
Treatments for vasculitis may include medications or surgery.