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Necrotizing vasculitis is a rare condition that involves inflammation of the blood vessel walls.
Vasculitis - necrotizing
Necrotizing vasculitis is common with:
- Polyarteritis nodosa
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Wegener's granulomatosis
It is very rare in children.
The cause of the inflammation is unknown. It is likely related to autoimmune factors. The wall of the blood vessel may scar and thicken, or die (become necrotic). The blood vessel may close, interrupting blood flow to the tissues it supplies. The lack of blood flow will cause the tissues to die.
Necrotizing vasculitis may affect any blood vessel in the body. Therefore, it can cause problems with the skin or any of the body's organs.
Fever, chills, fatigue, or weight loss may be the only symptoms at first. However, symptoms may be in almost any part of the body.
- Abnormal skin tissue (lesions)
- Papules (small, solid, and raised lesions)
- Red or purple colored
- Located on the legs, hands, or other parts of the body
- Fingers that change color (blue fingers or toes)
- Tissue death due to lack of oxygen
- Pain or tenderness in the area
- Skin redness
- Sores (ulcers) that do not heal
Muscles and joints:
Brain and nervous system:
- Pain, numbness, tingling in an arm, leg, or other body area
- Weakness of an arm, leg, or other body area
- Pupils that are different sizes
- Eyelid drooping
- Swallowing difficulty
- Speech impairment
- Movement difficulty
Other symptoms include:
Exams and Tests
The doctor will perform a physical exam. A nervous system (neurological) examination may show signs of nerve damage.
Tests that may be done include:
Corticosteroids (given in low doses) or other drugs that suppress the immune system may reduce inflammation of the blood vessels.
The outcome depends on the location of the vasculitis and the severity of tissue damage.
- Permanent damage to the structure or function of the affected area
- Secondary infections of necrotic tissues
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of necrotizing vasculitis.
Emergency symptoms include:
- Changes in pupil size
- Loss of function of an arm, leg, or other body part
- Speech problems
- Swallowing difficulty
There is no known way to prevent this disorder.
Cassidy JT. Systemic lupus erythematosus, juvenile dermatomyositis, scleroderma, and vasculitis. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Harris Jr. ED, McInnes IB, Ruddy S,eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th. Philadelphia, Pa: W. B. Saunders Company; 2008: chap 98.
Reviewed By: Neil J. Gonter, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Columbia University, NY and private practice specializing in Rheumatology at Rheumatology Associates of North Jersey, Teaneck, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.