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What is Vasculitis?

Vasculitis is a rare condition. It results in inflammation (swelling) in the blood vessels and decreased blood flow through the vessels. It is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking 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.

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Our Approach

At UR Medicine, our experienced rheumatologists will perform a comprehensive evaluation to make the diagnosis, develop an individualized treatment plan and work with other specialists to provide each patient with the care they need. Our experienced health care team will provide education and support. We will also help you coordinate the appointments you need for lab work and other tests as well as appointments with other specialists as needed.

Evaluation and Diagnosis

One of our rheumatologists will review your medical records and perform a physical exam. They will also order testing to determine 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. In a biopsy, a very small piece of tissue is obtained so that the blood vessels can be examined under a microscope.



  • Glucocorticoids: These medications decrease inflammation and work quickly. They are often one of the first medications prescribed. Prednisone is an example.
  • Steroid sparing medications: Glucocorticoids are very effective but can have long term side effects. These medication also suppress the immune system and make is possible to use a lower dose of glucocorticoids that will have less side effects. They 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 Surgeons.

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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 ideal treatment plans for patients.

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Our Providers


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UR Medicine Rheumatology Locations

Phone: (585) 486-0901
Fax: (585) 340-5399

Part of Strong Memorial Hospital
125 Lattimore Road, Suite G-110
Rochester, NY 14620
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Part of Strong Memorial Hospital
400 Red Creek Drive, Suite 240
Rochester, NY 14623
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Part of FF Thompson Hospital
Thompson Professional Building
395 West Street, Suite 007
Canandaigua, NY 14424
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Patient Education and Support

If you have questions about your illness or medications, ask your doctor. You may also find these websites helpful.

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Clinical Research

Our researchers are studying ways to improve treatment and quality of life of people with vasculitis. You may wish to help others by participating in a clinical study while receiving the newest treatment available.

To learn about participating in a clinical trial, see our Clinical Trials and Research Studies or contact us at

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