Types of Vasculitis

There are approximately 20 different disorders that are classified as “vasculitis”. “Angiitis” and “Arteritis” are both synonyms for vasculitis, literally meaning “inflammation within blood vessels” or “inflammation in arteries.”  Because there are so many types of vasculitis, the group is sometimes referred to in the plural: vasculitides (pronounced “vas que lit’ i deez”).

There are many different types of diseases that belong to this category. Although the diseases are similar in some ways, they often differ with respect to which organs are affected, which medications are used to treat them, and other characteristics.

Behcet’s Disease 
Characterized by the triad of mouth ulcers, genital ulcers, and eye inflammation. However, other organ systems may also be affected.

Buerger’s Disease (Thromboangiitis Obliterans)
Mainly affects smokers, leading to decreased blood flow to the hands and feet.

Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA, formerly known as Churg Strauss)
Associated with asthma, nasal polyps, sinusitis, elevated eosinophil counts, and vasculitis. EGPA has a tendency to involve lungs, peripheral nerves, skin, kidneys, and heart.

Cryoglobulinemia
Characterized by recurrent purpura (red dots) on the lower extremities and may be associated with hepatitis C virus infections or paraproteinemias.

Giant Cell Arteritis
This disease was previously named “temporal arteritis”, and is the most common type of vasculitis in adults in North America. It is a large vessel vasculitis that affects people over the age of 50 (although most individuals affected are 70-80 years of age). It can be characterized by fever, headache, and jaw/scalp pain.

Henoch-Schönlein Purpura
This disorder is often followed after an upper respiratory tract infections and is often, but not necessarily, self-limited.

Microscopic Polyangiitis
A systemic vasculitis affecting small and medium–sized blood vessels associated with the autoantibody, ANCA.

Polyarteritis Nodosa
The prototype of systemic vasculitis, involving many different organ systems and focussed on medium–sized arteries.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica
A syndrome of pain and stiffness localized to the shoulders and hips which often occurs in association with Giant Cell Arteritis.

Rheumatoid Vasculitis
A vasculitis that sometimes complicates the course of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Usually occurs in patients with a history of severe RA.

Takayasu’s Arteritis
A large vessel vasculitis that affects the aorta, its major branches to the extremities, and sometimes internal organs. Usually occurs in young women (< age 50 years).

Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA, formerly known as Wegener’s)
A systemic disease that involves the lungs, kidneys, upper respiratory tract, and other organs and associated with the autoantibody, ANCA.