Pronounced: polly-ar-ter-ITIS no-DO-sah
Polyarteritis nodosa is an autoimmune disease. Your immune system is your body’s defense system. It fights diseases and infections. An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your body's immune system mistakenly attacks your own body. With polyarteritis nodosa, medium-sized arteries and, less commonly, small arteries (blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body) become inflamed and damaged. The inflammation of the arteries affects many different organs, including the:
Although polyarteritis nodosa is a rare disease, it is a potentially serious condition that requires care from your doctor. The sooner it is treated, the better the outcome. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor right away.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. The following factors increase your chance of developing polyarteritis nodosa:
Polyarteritis nodosa is a multisystem disease. This means that it affects many parts of your body at the same time. It has a tendency to affect organs such as the skin, kidney, nerves, and gastrointestinal tract (part of the digestive system that includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines).
If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to polyarteritis nodosa. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of these, see your doctor.
Often with polyarteritis nodosa you will experience fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, and fever. Symptoms affecting particular organs include:
Cut-Away View of Skin with Bruise
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Detachment of Retina
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
There is no single test to diagnose polyarteritis nodosa. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.
Tests may include the following:
Early diagnosis and treatment of polyarteritis nodosa may improve the outcome. Treatment should be vigorous, with the goal being to reduce the inflammation of the arteries and put the condition into remission (period during which symptoms of a disease disappear).
Without treatment, the condition may be fatal. Complications from polyarteritis nodosa include stroke, kidney failure, heart attack, and permanent tissue damage of the intestines.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Polyarteritis Nodosa Research and Support Network
Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium
Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders
Canadian Rheumatology Association
Beers MH, Berkow R, eds. Diffuse connective tissue disease. The Merck Manual website. Available at: http://www.merck.com/mmpe/index.html. Accessed January 17, 2008.
DynaMed Editorial Team. Polyarteritis nodosa. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated July 9, 2010. Accessed November 10, 2010.
The Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center. Types of vasculitis: polyarteritis nodosa. The Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsvasculitis.org/types-vasculitis/polyarteritis-nodosa . Accessed January 17, 2008.
The Polyarteritis Nodosa Research and Support Network. Polyarteritis nodosa. The Polyarteritis Nodosa Research and Support Network website. Available at: http://www.angelfire.com/pa3/autoimmunedisease/new-pan-index.html. Accessed January 17, 2008.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2012 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
What can we help you find?close ×