Vasculitic Syndromes

Vasculitis refers to a broad spectrum of conditions involving inflammation of blood vessels. Although many classification schemes have focused on the size of the vessels involved, this might not be very useful clinically because of the significant amount of overlap between these disorders. Many vasculitides characteristically affect certain age groups for unknown reasons: Kawasaki's disease in children, temporal arteritis in the elderly, and Henoch-Schonlein purpura with a bimodal distribution. Most vasculitic syndromes are of unknown cause. Pathologic findings are usually not diagnostic for a specific syndrome; diagnosis is still made primarily on clinical grounds. Most vasculitides tend to cause sporadic involvement of vessels with skip lesions. That is, they involve only part of the vessel wall for only part of the segmental length of the vessel and do not occur uniformly in other vessels of the same size.

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