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Treatment for Inflamed Blood Vessels

Our goals at the Vasculitis Clinic are to:

  • provide expert, comprehensive care to patients with vasculitis,
  • make experimental therapies available for patients who have failed more standard treatments,
  • conduct high-quality basic science and clinical research in vasculitis, and
  • train new physicians with expertise in diagnosing and treating systemic clinical inflammatory disorders.

The University of Utah Vasculitis Clinic is as a tertiary referral clinic for patients with with different forms of vasculitis. We believe most patients with vasculitis benefit from a team approach to their care.

University of Utah Health has many specialists who can treat the different types of vasculitis. We can provide expert care in rheumatology, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), vascular medicine, cardiology, pulmonary medicine, and nephrology. We also provide the latest in diagnostic imaging and laboratory testing.

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What Is Vasculitis?

Vasculitis is a general term that means inflammation of blood vessels. More than 20 unique diseases are classified as vasculitis. These diseases are uncommon and may affect any blood vessel in the body. Vasculitis can affect any person at any time and causes damage by reducing blood flow to the affected organ. Vasculitis can affect one or multiple organs. 

Types of Vasculitis

We treat the following conditions, along with others:

  • Adult IgA vasculitis (Henoch-Schonlein purpura)
  • ANCA-associated vasculitis
  • Behcet syndrome
  • Central nervous system vasculitis
  • Churg-Strauss Syndrome
  • Cogan syndrome
  • Cryoglobulinemic vasculitis
  • Drug-induced vasculitis
  • Giant cell arteritis (temporal arteritis)
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener’s granulomatosis)
  • Hypocomplementemic urticarial vasculitis
  • Isolated aortitis
  • Microscopic polyangiitis
  • Polyarteritis nodosa
  • Single organ vasculitis
  • Takayasu arteritis

What Are the Causes of Vasculitis?

The cause for most vasculitis diseases is unknown; however, causes that are known include:

  • medications,
  • infections, or
  • cancer.

Vasculitis may be temporary, lasting only as long as a patient is exposed to a trigger agent, or it may be chronic, requiring medicine to control the disease.

Although more than 20 different vasculitis syndromes exist, each disorder is rare when compared to more common diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. Racial and gender factors do occur with some types of vasculitis.

Vasculitis Treatment

Initially, we remove whatever may be triggering the blood vessel inflamation or identify the underlying disorder that may be causing it. Most types of vasculitis can be treated with the medication Prednisone, sometimes with an additional immunosuppressant medication or biologic agent. However, because these diseases are so rare, diagnosis and treatment is often delayed.

Although current treatment therapies have lowered the mortality rate from some types of vasculitis, death rates due to damage from disease damage or medication is an increasing problem. For example, nearly one third of patients with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA or Wegener’s granulomatosis) will develop permanent disability alongside their vasculitis over a period of five years. Moreover, each year 1,500 people are hospitalized with GPA. The death rate for those with GPA is about 11 percent.

The University of Utah Vasculitis Clinic was created in 2007 to provide expert care for patients afflicted with these unique diseases.