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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2007  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 11-16

Roadmap to vasculitis: a rheumatological treasure hunt


1 Department of Medicine, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki; ORTON Orthopaedic Hospital of the Invalid Foundation, Helsinki; COXA Hospital for Joint Replacement, Tampere, Finland
2 Department of Medicine, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki
3 Department of Medicine, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
4 Institute of Experimental & Clinical Medicine, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania

Correspondence Address:
Y T Konttinen
Department of Medicine, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki; ORTON Orthopaedic Hospital of the Invalid Foundation, Helsinki; COXA Hospital for Joint Replacement, Tampere, Finland

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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Vasculitis is characterized by inflammation of the wall of blood vessels. It involves immunologically mediated responses to usually unknown antigens, which result in vessel wall damage. Weakening of the vessel wall can lead to aneurysms, dissections or bleeding and narrowing of the lumen (caused by vasculitis per se and complicating thrombosis and embolization) resulting in ischemic damage and necrosis of the affected end organs and tissues. The first part of this four-part review describes the red flags and stop signs, which could help the busy doctor to stop and to start to think of the possibility of vasculitis. This is particularly important as many of these syndromes are life- threatening and hence their diagnostics can be compared to "a rheumatologic treasure hunt" as the treasured life of the patient is often at stake. Everything starts with simple measures, namely taking the patient history and conduct- ing a complete physical examination. This is often enough for the identification of triggering factors as causes as well as targets of therapy in secondary vasculitides. They are often also enough for the right diagnosis, which only needs to be confirmed, perhaps by specialists, with more elaborate and expensive methodology.


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