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What is Vasculitis?

Vasculitis is a rare condition that results in inflammation (swelling) in the blood vessels, decreasing blood flow through those vessels. Vasculitis occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues instead of infections. There are many types of vasculitis. Symptoms vary depending on the type of vasculitis and which organs are affected. Sometimes it occurs as part of another autoimmune illness such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

UR Medicine's Treatments for Vasculitis

Our experienced rheumatologists will perform a complete evaluation to make a diagnosis, develop a treatment plan especially for you, and work with other specialists such as a dermatologist (skin), pulmonologist (lungs), or nephrologist (kidneys).

We’ll review your medical records and perform a physical exam. We'll also order testing to find out what type of vasculitis you have. This may include blood and urine tests as well as radiological exams that can look at blood vessels and internal organs.

A biopsy may also be needed, taking a very small piece of tissue so that the blood vessels can be examined under a microscope.

Our experienced health care team provides education and support and helps you coordinate appointments for lab work and other tests, as well as appointments with other specialists as needed.

Treatments Include:


  • Glucocorticoids: These medications decrease inflammation and work quickly. They are often one of the first medications prescribed. Prednisone is a common example.
  • Steroid-sparing medications: Glucocorticoids are very effective but can have long-term side effects, so steroid-sparing medications (which also suppress the immune system) can be used to make it possible to use a lower dose of glucocorticoids, leading to fewer side effects. These are also used to treat other autoimmune diseases. Examples include methotrexate, azathioprine, and cyclophosphamide.
  • Other treatments: Biologics are medications that block proteins that cause inflammation. They are used to treat other autoimmune illness and can be helpful in some forms of vasculitis. In severe cases, your doctor may recommend other treatments which are safe but less commonly used.


In severe vasculitis, damage to the blood vessels may occur despite aggressive treatment with medications. Surgery may be required to restore blood flow to normal. Learn more about UR Medicine Vascular Surgery.

What Sets Us Apart?

Because we’re an academic medical center, our physicians also lead research into better treatments and cures. Our experts have published numerous articles in national journals, and they work collaboratively with other specialists to create the ideal treatment plans for patients.


Our care team is here for you. Find a UR Medicine expert and get care now.

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3 locations

Allergy, Immunology, & Rheumatology - Rochester

Lattimore Medical Center
125 Lattimore Road, Suite G-110
Rochester, NY 14620

Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology - Canandaigua

Thompson Professional Building
395 West Street, Suite 007
Canandaigua, NY 14424

Rheumatology Clinic - Henrietta

Red Creek (Calkins Corporate Park)
400 Red Creek Drive, Suite 240
Rochester, NY 14623

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If you have questions about your illness or medications, ask your doctor. You may also find this website helpful:

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