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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003 Mar;48(3):311-40.

Cutaneous vasculitis.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94305, USA.


Vasculitis can range in severity from a self-limited single-organ disorder to a life-threatening disease with the prospect of multiple-organ failure. This condition presents many challenges to the physician, including classification and diagnosis, appropriate laboratory workup, treatment, and the need for careful follow-up. The physician must not only be able to recognize vasculitis but also be able to provide a specific diagnosis (if possible) as well as recognize and treat any underlying etiologic condition. Most diagnostic criteria are based on the size of vessel involvement, which often correlates with specific dermatologic findings. This may allow the dermatologist to provide an initial diagnosis and direct the medical evaluation. This article reviews the classification and diagnosis of cutaneous vasculitic syndromes and current treatment options; it also presents a comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating the patient with suspected cutaneous vasculitis. (J Am Acad Dermatol 2003;48:311-40.)


At the completion of this learning activity, participants should be familiar with the classification and clinical features of the various forms of cutaneous vasculitis. They should also have a rational approach to diagnosing and treating a patient with vasculitis.

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