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Vasculitis Diagnosis | How is Vasculitis diagnosed? | Johns Hopkins Medicine

March 2, 2020


(melancholy music) – So vasculitis is, as we’ve said, a really autoimmune
attack of blood vessels. So from that, the answer to the question kind of falls naturally into line in a way that makes sense. We want to see the actual
blood vessels that are injured and we want to know where they are. So the first thing that happens when a patient comes to us, we’ll ask them how long has this been going on for? And what are you feeling? Your symptoms. We’re going to examine you
and look for specific signs. For us as vasculitis experts, what we’re looking for is an idea of where to actually take a biopsy or where to take CT imaging, or some sort of radiography that gives us the best chance of
seeing the injured vessel or group of vessels in the body. So for example, if a patient comes to us
with a hand that’s numb and you have purple fingers, then that implies to us that the reason you have the symptoms is
because the blood supply to your hand has been affected and therefore would focus our studies, both by imaging and even if we could, by biopsying tissues in that area to get an idea of what is
the actual immune process that’s at play. It’s from that information
and that information really, that we form the core of
what is the diagnosis. It’s important to get the right diagnosis, because the treatments for different types of vasculitis are not all the same. (melancholy music) Absolutely. Sometimes, most of the
time what we actually see in the vasculitis center, you see what we call a primary vasculitis where that vasculitis is the way in which your immune system
attacks you and that’s it. But we do see sometimes for example, in patients with Crohn’s Disease, they can have a vasculitis on top of that that attacks the skin. We can do biopsies to
actually show that process. There are other types of vasculitis which in rare cases can be caused by autoimmune attack of the vessels because of an underlying cancer, which reprograms the immune system. But these cases are very, very, very rare. The vast majority of the time, vasculitis is a disease
unto itself fortunately. We treat them and we have developed really pretty good treatments, for the most part, for many of these diseases. (melancholy music)

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