Vasculitis, especially pediatric vasculitis, is a complicated group of conditions affecting different parts of the body. Many subspecialists may be involved in its diagnosis and treatment, including rheumatology, dermatology, cardiology, nephrology, neurology and gastroenterology.
As its name means, vasculitis is any inflammation of the blood vessels – both arteries and veins. The size of the vessel, the amount and effect of the inflammation (from pain, warmth and redness to total loss of function) and its location (skin, muscle, nervous system, heart, lung, GI/urinary tract) determines the severity of the impact on the body, as well as how easy it is to diagnosis.
There are quite a few types of vasculitis, but the two most common forms in children are Henoch-Schönlein Purpura, which inflames the smallest blood vessels, causing them to leak. This causes a rash resembling small, raised bruises. It can also affect the kidneys, GI tract and joints. The second common form in children is Kawasaki Disease, also called mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome. It inflames the arteries, veins, capillaries and lymph nodes. It can also cause heart disease in children. It may be recognized by a fever lasting five days or more, a body rash, reddened eyes, swollen feet and hands, red and cracked lips and tongue and swelling in the lymph nodes of the neck.