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Curr Opin Pediatr. 2010 Dec;22(6):731-8. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e3283402d4c.

Diagnosing central nervous system vasculitis in children.

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  • 1Division of Rheumatology, Department of Pediatrics, Research Institute, The Hospital for Sick Children, and Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To review the current literature of childhood central nervous system vasculitis, and to discuss a tailored approach to diagnosis and treatment based on recent evidence.


Primary angiitis of the central nervous system in children (cPACNS) is an increasingly recognized inflammatory brain disease with potentially devastating neurological consequences. The diagnostic approach should be tailored to the clinical presentation of the child with suspected cPACNS and should address the expanding spectrum of inflammatory and noninflammatory brain diseases with overlapping clinical features. New evidence has confirmed that elective brain biopsies in children have a higher diagnostic yield than in adults and improve our ability to diagnose angiography-negative cPACNS. Finally, observational studies have shown that early diagnosis and aggressive treatment lead to improved neurological outcomes and lower mortality rates in patients with cPACNS.


This review summarizes the recent data on diagnosis, classification, treatment, and outcomes in cPACNS. Our improved understanding of cPACNS facilitates a tailored diagnostic approach that results in earlier diagnosis and initiation of therapy for this potentially reversible condition.

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