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J Child Neurol. 2012 Nov;27(11):1448-59. doi: 10.1177/0883073812459352. Epub 2012 Sep 24.

Primary and secondary central nervous system vasculitis.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics, Division of Rheumatology, Child Health Evaluative Science, Research Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Central nervous system vasculitis is an increasingly recognized inflammatory brain disease causing devastating neurological deficits and psychiatric manifestations in previously healthy children. Primary central nervous system vasculitis represents an isolated inflammatory attack targeting the cerebral vessels. In contrast, in children with secondary central nervous system vasculitis, an underlying condition can be identified. The spectrum of childhood primary and secondary central nervous system vasculitis is rapidly expanding, as is the differential diagnosis including nonvasculitic inflammatory brain diseases and noninflammatory vasculopathies. Early recognition, rapid diagnostic evaluation, and initiation of treatment have led to improved morbidity and mortality. This review focuses on clinical, laboratory, and neuroimaging characteristics of the distinct subtypes of primary childhood central nervous system vasculitis, reports the etiology of secondary central nervous system vasculitis, provides an overview of the differential diagnosis, and reviews the current approaches in treatment.

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