Vasculitis is a general term for a group of uncommon diseases which feature inflammation of the blood vessels. The blood vessels of the body are referred to as the vascular system. The blood vessels are composed of arteries that pass oxygen- rich blood to the tissues of the body and veins which return oxygen- depleted blood from the tissues to the lungs for oxygen. Each of the vasculitis diseases (also, as a group, called vasculitides) is defined by characteristic distributions of blood vessel involvement, certain patterns of organ involvement, and laboratory test abnormalities. The word vasculitis is derived from the Latin "vasculum", vessel + "- itis", inflammation. Another term for vasculitis is angiitis. The actual cause of these vasculitis diseases is usually not known. However, immune system abnormality is a common feature. Examples of vasculitis include Kawasaki disease, Behcet's disease, polyarteritis nodosa, Wegener's granulomatosis, Takayasu’s arteritis, Churg-Strauss syndrome, giant cell arteritis (temporal arteritis), and Henoch Schonlein purpura. Vasculitis can also accompany infections (such as hepatitis B), exposure to chemicals (such as amphetamines and cocaine), cancers (such as lymphomas and multiple myeloma), and rheumatic diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus). Laboratory testing 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 ultimate diagnosis for vasculitis is typically established after a biopsy of involved tissue demonstrates the pattern of blood vessel inflammation. The treatment of the various forms of vasculitis depends 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. 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.
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SYN: angiitis.
- cutaneous v. an acute form of v. that may affect the skin only, but also may involve other organs, with a polymorphonuclear infiltrate in the walls of and surrounding small (dermal) vessels. Nuclear fragments are formed by karyorrhexis of the neutrophils. SEE ALSO: leukocytoclastic v.. SYN: hypersensitivity v..
- hypocomplementemic v. SYN: urticarial v..
- leukocytoclastic v. cutaneous acute v. characterized clinically by palpable purpura, especially of the legs, and histologically by exudation of the neutrophils and sometimes fibrin around dermal venules, with nuclear dust and extravasation of red cells; may be limited to the skin or involve other tissues as in Henoch-Schönlein purpura. SEE ALSO: cutaneous v.. [G. leukos, white, + kytos, cell, + klastos, broken, fr. klao, to break]
- livedo v. hyaline degeneration of the walls of small dermal blood vessel s with thrombolic occlusion seen with cryoglobulinemia or in atrophie blanche. No necrosis is seen.
- nodular v. chronic or recurrent nodular lesions of subcutaneous tissue, especially of the legs of older women, with lobular panniculitis, granulomatous inflammation with multinucleated giant cells, focal necrosis, and obliterative inflammation of the small blood vessel s, resembling erythema induratum but without evidence of associated tuberculosis.
- urticarial v. painful, purpuric cutaneous lesions resembling urticaria but lasting more than 24 hours, with biopsy findings of leukocytoclastic v. and variable systemic changes, often with hypocomplementemia. SYN: hypocomplementemic v..

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vas·cu·li·tis .vas-kyə-'līt-əs n, pl -lit·i·des -'lit-ə-.dēz inflammation of a blood or lymph vessel called also angiitis
vas·cu·lit·ic .vas-kyə-'lit-ik adj

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vas·cu·li·tis (vas″ku-liґtis) pl. vasculiґtides [vasculum + -itis] inflammation of a blood or lymph vessel; see arteritis, lymphangitis, and phlebitis. Called also angiitis. vasculitic adj

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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