Polyarteritis Nodosa

(PAN; Periarteritis Nodosa)

Pronounced: polly-ar-ter-ITIS no-DO-sah

Definition

Polyarteritis nodosa (PAN) is a blood vessel disease. Medium sized arteries become inflamed. Sometimes, smaller arteries are involved. This leads to problems with the organs. Without treatment, the condition can lead to death.

Causes

The cause of PAN is unknown. The immune system attacks healthy arteries. This causes inflammation. It is not known what causes the immune system to be overactive.

Risk Factors

PAN is more common in people aged 50 to 70 years of old. However, it can happen at any age.

Other things that may raise the risk are:

Symptoms

PAN affects the whole body at the same time. Common problems include:

  • General:
    • Fever
    • Weight loss
    • Joint and muscle pain
  • Skin:
    • Rashes or small bumps under the skin
    • Open sores
    • Bruises
    • Death of skin tissue
  • Nervous system:
    • Tingling, burning, pain, or numbness in the feet, hands, legs, arms, and face
    • Weakness
    • Problems thinking
  • Gastrointestinal:
    • Belly pain
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Diarrhea —may be with blood
  • Vision problems
  • Genital sores

Cut-Away View of Skin with Bruise

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Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. There is no specific test that detects PAN. Tests may include:

Diagnosis is based on symptoms and test results.

Treatment

Early diagnosis and treatment may improve the outcome. The goal is to reduce inflammation of the arteries to bring on a remission.

Medicines will:

  • Ease inflammation in the arteries
  • Change how the immune system works
  • Help manage infections

Prevention

There is no way to prevent PAN since the cause is unknown.

RESOURCES:

The Polyarteritis Nodosa Research and Support Network
http://www.pansupportnetwork.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

CORD—Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders
http://www.raredisorders.ca
Canadian Rheumatology Association
https://rheum.ca

References:

de Boysson H, Guillevin L. Polyarteritis nodosa neurologic manifestations. Neurol Clin. 2019;37(2):345-357.
Polyarteritis nodosa. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/polyarteritis-nodosa. Accessed July 19, 2021.
Types of vasculitis: polyarteritis nodosa. The Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsvasculitis.org/types-vasculitis/polyarteritis-nodosa. Accessed July 19, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 7/19/2021

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