New insight into the rheumatoid vasculitis

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Vasculitis in rheumatoid arthritis (rheumatoid vasculitis, RV) has a heterogeneous clinical presentation that includes skin disorders, neuropathy, eye symptoms and systemic inflammation. Rheumatoid vasculitis is an unusual complication of longstanding, severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

While RA affects the body’s joints, vasculitis is a condition in which blood vessels become inflamed. Rheumatoid vasculitis occurs in approximately 2 to 5% of patients who have RA. The blood vessels most often involved are arteries that bring blood to the skin, nerves, and internal organs. Veins can also be involved. Rheumatoid vasculitis is skin condition that is a typical feature of RA, presenting as peripheral vascular lesions that are localized (purpura, cutaneous ulceration, and gangrene of the distal parts of the extremities). The cause of RV is unknown, but given the prominence of immune components and the pathologic changes in involved blood vessels, an autoimmune process is suggested. Compared to other forms of vasculitis, there has been relatively little research in recent years on the specific entity of RV. There is some evidence that the incidence of RV has decreased over the past several decades, perhaps because of a better treatment of the underlying RA. In the present review, we discuss the clinical features, laboratory tests, the pathogenesis of RV.

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