What is polyarteritis nodosa? — Polyarteritis nodosa (called "PAN" here) is a condition that can cause problems with the kidneys, skin, and other parts of the body. It happens when certain blood vessels get inflamed. This can damage the blood vessels and keep them from carrying enough blood to body parts that need it.
PAN is a serious condition. Some people have more severe disease than others. People with severe disease who do not get treatment can die from it.
PAN can happen in people who do not have other health problems. It can also happen in people who have certain diseases. These include:
Infection with a virus, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV (the virus that causes AIDS)
A type of cancer called "hairy cell leukemia"
What are the symptoms of PAN? — The symptoms include:
Losing weight without trying
Muscle pain and weakness
Skin changes – These are more common on the legs. They can include:
•Red bumps that hurt
•Red or purple spots on the skin that do not turn white when you press on them
•A purple pattern on the skin, which might be raised above the skin around it
•Open sores or blisters
Numbness, tingling, and decreased feeling in the hands or feet – At first, this might happen on just one side of the body. It usually spreads to both sides.
Belly pain – Some people have other symptoms of belly problems, such as:
•Nausea and vomiting
•Diarrhea or blood in bowel movements
Pain in the testicles (in men)
PAN can also cause high blood pressure. This can be dangerous for your heart and other organs. Your doctor or nurse will tell you if you have it.
Most people who have PAN have symptoms in several parts of the body at once. But PAN sometimes affects just one area, such as the skin.
Will I need tests? — Yes. Your doctor or nurse will do an exam and learn about your symptoms. You might have some or all of these tests:
Chest X-ray – A chest X-ray creates a picture of your lungs. It can tell the doctor if you have PAN or a different condition. Some other diseases cause symptoms like those of PAN. These diseases usually affect the lungs.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) – This test measures the electrical activity in your heart. PAN sometimes affects the heart.
Biopsy – In this test, the doctor takes a small sample of tissue from a body part that has symptoms. Another doctor looks at the tissue under a microscope to check for signs of PAN.
Angiogram – For this test, the doctor injects a dye into a blood vessel in a part of the body that is affected by PAN. The dye shows up on imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. These imaging tests create pictures of the inside of the body. The dye can show problems with the blood vessels.
How is PAN treated? — Doctors give medicines to control PAN and keep it from getting worse. Many people can take pills by mouth for PAN. But some people need medicine through an "IV." This is a thin tube that goes into a vein.
Treatment for PAN usually takes at least 6 months. It can take more than 1 year to get rid of symptoms. The medicines that treat PAN can cause serious side effects. Your doctor or nurse might give you other medicines to help keep these side effects from happening or make them less serious.
What if I want to get pregnant? — Some medicines that treat PAN are not safe to take if you are pregnant. If you have PAN, ask your doctor or nurse if it is safe for you to get pregnant.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 83628 Version 7.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
© 2020 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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