May also be called: Periarteritis Nodosa; Panarteritis Nodosa; Kussmaul's Disease
Polyarteritis nodosa (PAN) is a rare disease affecting the blood vessels. Small to medium-sized arteries become inflamed (this is called vasculitis), causing damage to the arteries and the body's organs.
Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to tissues and organs. With PAN, immune cells attack the arteries, causing disruption in the blood supply. As a result, tissues and organs can't receive enough oxygen and nourishment to function properly.
There is no known cause or cure for polyarteritis nodosa (pol-ee-ar-ter-EYE-tis no-DOE-suh). People with active hepatitis B and C are at higher risk for developing the condition.
Polyarteritis nodosa can involve many different areas of the body including the skin, heart, kidneys, joints, nerves, muscles, and intestines.
Symptoms are wide-ranging and depend upon which organs are affected. They can include skin rashes and ulcers, muscle and joint aches, fever, fatigue, weakness, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. Nerve pain and numbness also can be associated with PAN. Serious complications can include strokes, seizures, and kidney failure.
While polyarteritis nodosa can be serious, many people with the condition do very well. Early diagnosis and treatment with immunosuppressant drugs can put people into short- or long-term remission.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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