Vasculitis (vas-kyu-li-tus) literally means "inflammation of the blood vessels." Pulmonary vasculitis syndromes are diseases where inflammation of the blood vessels in the lungs leads to shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough. Occasionally, patients will cough up blood (called hemoptysis). It is not known why people develop pulmonary vasculitis syndromes, but they are sometimes associated with other immune disorders, such as lupus, or following certain types of infections.
Making a diagnosis of vasculitis is done by taking a thorough medical history, performing a complete physical examination, a chest x-ray or CT scan, and blood and urine tests. On occasion, a bronchoscopy will be necessary to evaluate for bleeding in the lungs. Sometimes a biopsy is necessary. The site of biopsy is determined by the organs affected by the vasculitis, but the most common sites to biopsy are the lung or kidney.
Treatment of vasculitis syndromes includes steroids and immune-suppressing medications, and often requires frequent blood and urine testing to ensure the disease is being treated adequately. If you have further questions about pulmonary vasculitis syndromes, ask your doctor.