Vasculitis is an inflammation of the vascular system, which includes the veins, arteries, and capillaries. Researchers think that inflammation is due to a faulty immune system response. Vasculitis can cause problems in any organ system, including the central (CNS) and peripheral (PNS) nervous systems. Vasculitis disorders, or syndromes, of the CNS and PNS are characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells in and around blood vessels, and secondary narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels that nourish the brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves.

Treatment for a vasculitis syndrome depends upon the specific diagnosis. Most of the syndromes respond well to steroid drugs, such as prednisolone. Some may also require treatment with an immunosuppressive drug, such as cyclophosphamide.

The prognosis is dependent upon the specific syndrome, however, most of the syndromes are fatal if left untreated.

Prepared by the National Institutes of Health