What Is Small-Vessel Vasculitis?


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Small vessel vasculitis is the inflammation of the venules, arterioles, capillaries and very small arteries of the body, according to UpToDate. Types of small vessel vasculitis include granulomatosis with polyangiitis, Henoch-Schönlein purpura, Behçet's syndrome, Churg-Strauss vasculitis and cryoglobulinemia.

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Granulomatosis with polyangiitis, formerly called Wegener's, is a type of small vessel vasculitis that primarily inflames the kidneys, lungs and sinuses, explains the American College of Rheumatology. In some cases, granulomatosis with polyangiitis can also affect the joints, ears, nerves, eyes and skin and can cause kidney failure.

Henoch-Schönlein purpura, also called IgA vasculitis, primarily occurs in children between the ages of 2 and 11, according to WebMD. It causes a raised rash and bruises on the buttocks or legs and possible kidney problems, but usually there are no permanent health problems if the patient receives prompt treatment.

Behçet's syndrome can affect large and small blood vessels, notes UpToDate. Early symptoms includes eye problems, rashes and ulcers. This disease causes blood clots, aneurysms and blood vessel blockages over time.

Churg-Strauss vasculitis is most likely to cause inflammation of the sinuses, lungs, heart, nerves and intestines, explains WebMD. In approximately 50 percent of cases, Churg-Strauss vasculitis affects the joints, kidneys or muscles, too.

Abnormal proteins in the blood that have a thick or solid texture cause cryoglobulinemia, according to MedlinePlus. These proteins inflame and damage blood vessels. Doctors separate cryoglobulinemia into three types based on the protein that causes the damage.

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