Learn About Polyarteritis Nodosa

What is the definition of Polyarteritis Nodosa?

Polyarteritis nodosa is a serious blood vessel disease. The small and medium-sized arteries become swollen and damaged.

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What are the alternative names for Polyarteritis Nodosa?

Periarteritis nodosa; PAN; Systemic necrotizing vasculitis

What are the causes of Polyarteritis Nodosa?

Arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to organs and tissues. The cause of polyarteritis nodosa is unknown. The condition occurs when certain immune cells attack the affected arteries. The tissues that are fed by the affected arteries do not get the oxygen and nourishment they need. Damage occurs as a result.

More adults than children get this disease.

People with active hepatitis B or hepatitis C may develop this disease.

Artery cut section
What are the symptoms of Polyarteritis Nodosa?

Symptoms are caused by damage to affected organs. The skin, joints, muscle, gastrointestinal tract, heart, kidneys, and nervous system are often affected.

Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint aches
  • Muscle aches
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Weakness

If nerves are affected, you may have numbness, pain, burning, and weakness. Damage to the nervous system may cause strokes or seizures.

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What are the current treatments for Polyarteritis Nodosa?

Treatment involves medicines to suppress inflammation and the immune system. These may include steroids, such as prednisone. Similar medicines, such as azathioprine, methotrexate or mycophenolate that allow for reducing the dose of steroids are often used as well. Cyclophosphamide is used in severe cases.

For polyarteritis nodosa related to hepatitis, treatment may involve plasmapheresis and antiviral medicines.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Polyarteritis Nodosa?

Current treatments with steroids and other drugs that suppress the immune system (such as azathioprine or cyclophosphamide) can improve symptoms and the chance of long-term survival.

The most serious complications most often involve the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract.

Without treatment, the outlook is poor.

What are the possible complications of Polyarteritis Nodosa?

Complications may include:

  • Heart attack
  • Intestinal necrosis and perforation
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
When should I contact a medical professional for Polyarteritis Nodosa?

Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of this disorder. Early diagnosis and treatment may improve the chance of a good outcome.

How do I prevent Polyarteritis Nodosa?

There is no known prevention. However, early treatment can prevent some damage and symptoms.

Microscopic polyarteritis 2
Circulatory system
What are the latest Polyarteritis Nodosa Clinical Trials?
Studies of the Natural History, Pathogenesis, and Outcome of Idiopathic Systemic Vasculitis
Summary: Background:~- Vasculitis is a group of diseases that inflame and damage blood vessels and tissue. It can cause many medical problems. Few tests can diagnose the disease, and none can reliably predict a relapse. Researchers want to study people s genes and follow people over time to see how the disease affects them.~Objective:~- To learn the signs, symptoms, imaging tests, genetic markers, and bloo...
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VCRC Genetic Repository One-Time DNA Protocol
Summary: The purpose of this study is to identify genes that increase the risk of developing vasculitis, a group of severe diseases that feature inflammation of blood vessels. Results of these studies will provide vasculitis researchers with insight into the causes of these diseases and generate new ideas for diagnostic tests and therapies, and will be of great interest to the larger communities of researc...
What are the Latest Advances for Polyarteritis Nodosa?
Pancreaticoduodenal artery aneurysm associated with polyarteritis nodosa presenting as massive upper gastrointestinal bleeding.
Summary: Pancreaticoduodenal artery aneurysm associated with polyarteritis nodosa presenting as massive upper gastrointestinal bleeding.
Anti-phosphatidylserine/prothrombin antibodies in patients with polyarteritis nodosa.
Summary: Anti-phosphatidylserine/prothrombin antibodies in patients with polyarteritis nodosa.
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Cutaneous polyarteritis nodosa in three patients: disease course and our experience leading to faster remission.
Summary: Cutaneous polyarteritis nodosa in three patients: disease course and our experience leading to faster remission.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: May 31, 2020
Published By: Diane M. Horowitz, MD, Rheumatology and Internal Medicine, Northwell Health, Great Neck, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Luqmani R, Awisat A. Polyarteritis nodosa and related disorders. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, Koretzky GA, McInnes IB, O'Dell JR, eds. Firestein & Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 95.

Puéchal X, Pagnoux C, Baron G, et al. Adding azathioprine to remission-induction glucocorticoids for eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Churg-Strauss), microscopic polyangiitis, or polyarteritis nodosa without poor prognosis factors: a randomized, controlled trial. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2017;69(11):2175-2186. PMID: 28678392 www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28678392/.

Shanmugam VK. Vasculitis and other uncommon arteriopathies. In: Sidawy AN, Perler BA, eds. Rutherford's Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 137.

Stone JH. The systemic vasculitides. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 254.