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Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1991 Apr;20(5):285-96.

Urticarial vasculitis in a connective tissue disease clinic: patterns, presentations, and treatment.

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  • 1Lupus Arthritis Research Unit, Rayne Institute, St Thomas' Hospital, London, England.


Findings in 27 patients with typical skin lesions of urticarial vasculitis (UV) who were seen at a connective tissue disease clinic over a 5-year period (1986 to 1990) are reviewed. The majority suffered from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or from "lupus-like" disease (18 patients), 1 from "mixed" connective tissue disease (MCTD), and 5 from primary UV. All of the latter patients had normal serum complement levels (normocomplementemic urticarial vasculitic syndrome; NUVS). No patients with hypocomplementemic UV were encountered. Two patients suffered from necrotizing vasculitis (polyarteritis nodosa, Wegener's granulomatosis); one had a C1-esterase inhibitor deficiency and also demonstrated an immunoglobulin G paraproteinemia. Angioedema occurred in many patients and could not be used as a differential diagnostic feature. The course of the illness was chronic in most patients, lasting for up to 23 years, and the response to therapy was unpredictable, erratic, and unsustained. The use of intravenous "pulse" methylprednisolone, cyclophosphamide, or high-dose oral steroids helped selected patients. Colchicine was dramatically effective in one patient with NUVS of 15 years duration. Azathioprine was not beneficial. None of the five patients with NUVS suffered from severe systemic involvement or renal disease, confirming observations by others that this form of UV represents a milder example of the condition.

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