An Approach to Vasculitis and Vasculopathy
Vasculitis and vasculopathy may arise from a primary or secondary cause, which often makes the workup and diagnosis challenging. Vasculitis occurs when inflammation in the blood vessel wall leads to its destruction and vasculopathy when a thrombus forms in the arterial lumen and compromises blood flow. The difference is subtle but important to distinguish since there are divergent diagnoses and treatments for vasculitis and vasculopathy. The hallmark clinical feature of vasculitis is palpable purpura, which also can be a manifestation of vasculopathy. Similarly the emergence of livedo reticularis is more consistent with vasculopathy but also may be seen with either entity. This overlap is important to keep in mind. Herein I will give a brief overview of how I approach vasculitis and vasculopathy. For starting residents, having an uncomplicated methodology will allow you to work quickly and thoroughly through the possible causes of vasculitis and vasculopathy.