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Vasculitis

Vasculitis refers to a group of conditions in which the blood vessels become inflamed. The key concern is that such inflammation can cause vessels—arteries, veins and capillaries—to narrow or close. Restricted circulation can cause problems—ranging from mild to life-threatening—throughout the body. Depending on the type of vasculitis, the lungs, kidneys or other organs may be at risk of damage.

Symptoms of vasculitis vary widely depending on the type and severity of the condition, and they can be temporary or chronic. A few potential symptoms include shortness of breath, numbness in a hand or foot and red spots or ulcers on the skin. Fever and general aches and pains are also typical.

Physicians do not know what causes most types of vasculitis. They consider vasculitis to be an autoimmune disorder, meaning the body attacks its own tissues. A few cases develop from infection with hepatitis C and from reactions to medicine, and others accompany other rheumatic diseases such as lupus.

A few of the many types of vasculitis include:

  • Giant cell arteritis. This type of vasculitis affects the temporal artery (located on the side of the head) and is the most common form in adults older than 50.
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis. This disease causes not only inflamed vessels, but also lumps called granulomas in the sinuses, nose, throat, lungs and kidneys.
  • Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis. This disorder can affect the heart, lungs and kidneys along with other body systems.

Vasculitis in general is rare. It cannot be cured, but many cases respond well to treatment.

You do not have to face vasculitis alone. At Indiana University Health, we provide treatment to help you control symptoms, preserve organ function and maintain the best possible quality of life. Our specialists rely on extensive training and experience and advanced technology to detect vasculitis and distinguish among its many forms.

We develop highly individualized treatment plans based on your specific symptoms, needs and preferences. In cases where we use powerful therapies such as immune suppressants, we are careful to make medication and dosing choices that minimize side effects while remaining effective.

Our close connection with the Indiana University School of Medicine ensures that our patients have access to the most innovative diagnostic and treatment options for vasculitis. Additionally, we help to prepare future generations of physicians and we perform research to find better treatment options for autoimmune disorders.

At times, people with vasculitis may also require the care of physician specialists of the skin (dermatologists), eye (ophthalmologists), kidney (nephrologists), lung (pulmonologists) or other body systems. The referral network of IU Health ensures that you receive comprehensive care from highly qualified clinical experts.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Vasculitis Treatment Information

Treatments for vasculitis include:


Vasculitis Locations & Physicians

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Vasculitis Support Services

More information on vasculitis is available from several national organizations. They include: