Vasculitis specialist Perth
If your GP has told you you may have vasculitis, you may be referred to Murdoch Rheumatology to obtain a clear diagnosis and to plan your treatment. On this page, we discuss the types of vasculitis and how they relate to other types of inflammation and disorders of your immune system.
Vasculitis specialist Perth
What is vasculitis?
Vasculitis refers to conditions that involve inflammation of the blood vessels. This inflammation may involve the smaller blood vessels such as veins and capillaries. Arteries take the blood that is pumped from the heart to the organs throughout the body. These arteries can also be affected in vasculitis.
Vasculitis leads to swelling of the blood vessel walls which can narrow the blood vessel and reduce the blood flow through them or cause complete blockage of blood flow due to the amount of swelling or formation of a blood clot. The body tissue that these blood vessels travel through may then be deprived of blood flow and die. This tissue may also be affected by inflammation from the blood vessels that travel through it.
What types of vasculitis are there?
There are several types of vasculitic illness which are due to autoimmunity (overactivity of the immune system) such as:
- Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA) and Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR).
This affects older people, usually over the age of 60. The large arteries including the aorta and the large arteries branching from it are involved.
- Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA)
The medium-sized arteries inflamed within the nose, sinuses, lungs and kidneys.
- Eosinophilic Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (EGPA).
This is also known as Churg-Strauss Syndrome and may see adult-onset asthma with inflammation of the arteries in the sinuses, bowel, skin and nerves.
- Takayasu’s Arteritis
This involves the large arteries and usually affects young women.
- Henoch-Schonlein Purpura (IgA Vasculitis).
The small blood vessels in the skin, joints, kidneys and intestines can be affected. Most often this type of vasculitis affects children.
- Kawasaki Disease
Children are affected by this type of vasculitis that affects the small and medium-sized blood vessels and is associated with enlargement of the lymph glands.
Vasculitis may also occur as a part of other autoimmune diseases including Rheumatoid Arthritis and SLE.
It may also occur with infections (viruses, parasites), allergy (including to various drugs)
What are the symptoms?
Vasculitis may cause general symptoms including:
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Joint and muscle aching
Other symptoms depend on the type and location of the blood vessels involved and can include:
- Headache with tenderness of the scalp
- Visual symptoms such as blurred or double vision, sudden loss of vision, redness and inflammation of the eye
- Lung symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain and cough (sometimes containing blood)
- Sudden ringing in the ears or loss of hearing
- Nasal congestion and bleeding from the nose
- Skin rash, usually appearing as blood blisters or ulcers.
- Gastrointestinal pain and bleeding from the bowel and mouth ulcers.
- Pins and needles, numbness and weakness in arms and legs
How do you diagnose vasculitis?
Vasculitis is most often diagnosed and cared for by Rheumatologists.
The steps in diagnosing involve:
- A thorough history and clinical examination
- Blood tests including
- Markers of inflammation such as ESR and CRP
- Liver and kidney function
- Antibodies, including anticytoplasmic antibody (ANCA), antinuclear antibody (ANA), Rheumatoid Factor (RF)
- Biopsy of involved areas of the body such as skin, kidney, lung, scalp artery
- Ultrasound examination especially of the major arteries of the scalp and neck
- CT scan and angiogram
- MRI and angiogram
- PET scan
At Murdoch Rheumatology, you will find experience and expertise in diagnosing and treating Vasculitis. Assessment may include Doppler Ultrasound of the large arteries of the head and neck. This evaluation can allow the immediate diagnosis of GCA.
Vasculitis treatment Perth
How is it treated?
The type of treatment depends on the particular type of vasculitis and how it affects you as a patient.
Treatment may include medications to suppress the overactive immune system (immunosuppressants) such as:
- Prednisolone (steroids)
Vasculitis doctor Perth
Why Murdoch Rheumatology?
When you are looking for vasculitis treatment, it all starts with a correct diagnosis. Once you have a clear diagnosis, Dr Andrew Taylor plans the best possible treatment for your personal circumstances.
The goal is to minimise the impact of your condition on your daily life. Dr Taylor has the same goal: to help you live as normally as possible and enjoy everyday activities as much as possible.