Last updated:05-18-2010
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Definition and causes

Polyarteritis nodosa is a rare disease, caused by an inflammation in the body's small blood vessels. The changes in the blood vessels appear gradually resulting in poor oxygen supply to the involved tissues. Particularly affected is the skin and internal organs such as the kidneys, intestines and heart.
The disease occurs more often in men frequently aged 20-60 years. The cause is unknown.


Symptoms of polyarteritis nodosa

The symptoms are uncharacteristical, but often more general symptoms in the form of:
  • General malaise with fatigue, headache and fever.
  • Joint - and muscle pain.
  • Disturbed tactile sense.
  • Abdominal pain and weight loss.
  • Skin changes are seen relatively often in the form of red rash due to failure of blood supply.


Precautions and diagnosis

Various blood tests can be performed, which can display a high-level inflammation in the body and determine whether the kidneys are affected or not. A tissue (biopsy) is necessary to make the final diagnosis.


Treatment of polyarteritis nodosa

In active stages of the disease adrenal cortical hormones may be prescribed, to inhibit the inflammatory condition. If the disease involves the internal organs, it may in some cases be required to administer chemotherapy.


Prognosis and complications

Polyarteritis nodosa often has a single acute process, and most deaths happen within the first 1-2 years of the disease. Untreated the prognosis is poor, but given the above treatment, the prognosis is quite good.
Serious complications can include heart failure, intestinal perforation (hole in the intestine) or bleeding. These complications are also the most frequent causes of death as a result of the disease.


Related articles:

Connective tissue (inflammatory connective tissue)
Polyarteritis nodosa
Polymyositis and dermatomyositis
SLE (Systemic lupus erythematosus, LED)
Temporalis arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica



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