Objective: Polyarteritis nodosa (PAN) is a systemic necrotizing vasculitis of medium-sized visceral vessels. However, cutaneous arteritis (CA) and gastrointestinal (GI) vasculitis are forms of single-organ vasculitis having indistinguishable histopathologic findings from PAN. The aim of this study was to evaluate and compare the clinical characteristics, treatment, and outcomes of patients with systemic PAN, CA, and GI vasculitis. Methods: Retrospective cohorts were assembled, consisting of patients with PAN, CA, and GI vasculitis between 1980 and 2014. The demographics, clinical characteristics, treatment, and outcomes of patients were abstracted from medical records. Results: We included 48 patients with PAN, 41 patients with CA, and 19 patients with GI vasculitis. The disease of 1 patient evolved from CA to systemic PAN during the disease course. At diagnosis, 94% of patients with PAN, 93% of patients with CA, and 67% of patients with GI vasculitis were treated with glucocorticoids. Additional immunosuppressive agents were used in 67% of PAN, 37% of GI vasculitis, and 32% of CA cases. The 5-year cumulative relapse rate was 45.2% in CA, and only 9.6% in PAN during a followup of approximately 6 years. No deaths were observed in the CA group. The survival rate at 10 years was 66% in the PAN group and 61% in the GI vasculitis group. Conclusion: Systemic PAN, CA, and GI vasculitis take different clinical courses and therefore may be different diseases, rather than existing on a spectrum of the same disease. Progression of CA to systemic PAN is very rare. Relapse risk is low during followup in PAN. Patients with CA have a higher relapse rate than those with systemic PAN, possibly due to less use of immunosuppressive therapy in CA.
ASJC Scopus subject areas