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The term vasculitis refers to inflammation of blood vessels and represents a heterogeneous group of clinical disorders.

Each form of vasculitis can produce a distinct clinical picture, but in many cases immunology testing can differentiate, confirm and monitor the presence of vasculitis. Other forms of vasculitis, for example, Beh├žet's disease and primary cerebral vasculitis are not associated with any specific blood tests.

The main immunological tests are antinuclear antibody (ANA - for SLE a connective tissue diseases) and anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA - Wegener's granulomatosis and other vasculitides).

It is important to understand that neither of these tests is specific; they can both be positive in infection and in liver disease. This makes these tests very unsuitable as 'screens' in patients with vague symptoms such as malaise, weight loss or fever.

Other tests include complement C3 and C4, which are altered in immune complex disease and cryoglobulin.


(Last updated October 9th 2014)