Children with vasculitis need ongoing care from a team of specialists. Early identification of the autoimmune disease and effective treatment are key to minimizing damage to vital organs, including the kidneys, heart, and lungs. Duke pediatric rheumatologists work with other specialists to prevent or treat the organ damage that can result from vasculitis and to put your child's disease into remission.
Experience Is Key to Identifying Vasculitis in Children
Vasculitis causes inflammation of blood vessels that may impact the flow of blood to organs. Its vague symptoms -- fatigue, skin rashes, fevers, and other common childhood complaints -- makes it difficult to diagnose. Its effects can be severe. Heart, lung, and kidney damage are serious concerns.
Duke pediatric rheumatologists are experts at differentiating between vasculitis and medical conditions with similar symptoms. We treat children with a wide range of inflammatory blood vessel disorders, including Henoch-Schönlein purpura, Kawasaki disease, Takayasu arteritis, and ANCA-associated vasculitis (including microscopic polyangiitis and granulomatosis with polyangiitis).
While vasculitis can be a lifelong condition, it can be controlled through ongoing management. As your child grows, we help transition his or her care to an adult rheumatologist.
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An accurate diagnosis is essential for prompt, effective treatment. Discussing your child’s medical history and completing a physical exam is the first step. Additional tests may be necessary to help rule out other illnesses, determine which blood vessels are affected, and assess whether certain organs have been impacted or are at risk. If these tests identify the potential for damage to vital organs or other medical concerns, we work with specialists throughout Duke to coordinate your child's care. As a result, your child's team may include pediatric cardiologists, dermatologists, pulmonologists, kidney disease specialists, and others when necessary.
Blood and Urine Tests
These help detect the presence of inflammation and organ damage.
While your child is under general or local anesthesia, a small piece of tissue is removed for examination under a microscope to inspect the blood vessels and help determine whether your child has vasculitis. Biopsies are usually performed as outpatient surgery, which means your child should be able to go home the same day.
CT, MRI, or X-ray scans can rule out tumors, infections, and other medical concerns. They also show whether vasculitis is harming specific blood vessels or organs. These tests can take from 15 minutes to an hour and are virtually painless.
Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in nine pediatric specialties.