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Clin Exp Immunol. 2010 May;160(2):143-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2009.04078.x. Epub 2010 Jan 12.

An approach to the diagnosis and management of systemic vasculitis.

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Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford, UK.


The systemic vasculitides are a complex and often serious group of disorders which, while uncommon, require careful management in order to ensure optimal outcome. In most cases there is no known cause. Multi-system disease is likely to be fatal without judicious use of immunosuppression. A prompt diagnosis is necessary to preserve organ function. Comprehensive and repeated disease assessment is a necessary basis for planning therapy and modification of treatment protocols according to response. Therapies typically include glucocorticoids and, especially for small and medium vessel vasculitis, an effective immunosuppressive agent. Cyclophosphamide is currently the standard therapy for small vessel multi-system vasculitis, but other agents are now being evaluated in large randomized trials. Comorbidity is common in patients with vasculitis, including the cumulative effects of potentially toxic therapy. Long-term evaluation of patients is important in order to detect and manage relapses.

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