Polyarteritis Nodosa (PAN)

What is Polyarteritis Nodosa?

This condition is characterized by vasculitis, which is an inflammation of small and medium vessels. It is most common between 40-50 years of age. Men are twice more likely to be affected than women. The cause of this condition is not completely known and sometimes is believed to be an autoimmune disease.  Hepatitis B has also been associated with polyarteritis nodosa. 

What are the symptoms of Polyarteritis Nodosa?

  • Abdominal pain worse with eating 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Fever
  • Joint pain and muscle aches
  • Raynaud phenomenon
  • Fatigue weight loss
  • Generalized weakness
  • Asymmetric peripheral neuropathy  
  • Renal aneurysms
  • Livedo reticularis  

How is Polyarteritis Nodosa diagnosed?

The diagnosis of PAN is based on physical exam, signs and symptoms, and some laboratory tests that help you rule out other conditions. There is not one single blood test that is diagnostic of this disease. Inflammation markers such as CRP and ESR will be elevated but they are not specific for PAN. Most vasculitides have involvement of the lungs and the glomerulus of your kidneys, but PAN is known for sparing these areas. If the patient has nerve or skin involvement, a tissue biopsy will give the definitive diagnosis. 

How is Polyarteritis Nodosa treated?

As of today, there is not a cure for PAN, but symptoms can be managed. The treatment is based on the severity of symptoms. The most common treatments are corticosteroids and immunosuppressive medications. The corticosteroids will help with the vessel inflammation and can help with the progression of the disease. 

If you want to know more about the treatment for PAN related to Hepatitis B. Please click here

To learn more about this condition visit the Johns Hopkins vasculitis center website

What are the differential diagnoses of Polyarteritis Nodosa?

  • Wegener’s granulomatosis 
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome
  • Endocarditis 

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