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.
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.
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:
Infections such as:
Inflammatory bowel disease
PAN affects the whole body at the same time. Common problems include:
- Weight loss
- Joint and muscle pain
- Rashes or small bumps under the skin
- Open sores
- Death of skin tissue
- Tingling, burning, pain, or numbness in the feet, hands, legs, arms, and face
- Problems thinking
- Belly pain
- Nausea and vomiting
—may be with blood
- Vision problems
- Genital sores
Cut-Away View of Skin with Bruise
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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.
Early diagnosis and treatment may improve the outcome. The goal is to reduce inflammation of the arteries to bring on a remission.
- Ease inflammation in the arteries
- Change how the immune system works
- Help manage infections
There is no way to prevent PAN since the cause is unknown.
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