Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

To diagnose vasculitis, your doctor will likely ask about your symptoms and past medical history and conduct a thorough physical exam. Tests and procedures used to diagnose vasculitis include:

  • Blood tests. Blood tests used to help diagnose vasculitis include tests that look for signs of inflammation, such as the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein tests. A complete blood cell count can tell whether you have enough red blood cells. A test that looks for certain antibodies — antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies test — that suggest your immune system is fighting healthy cells may also be done.
  • Urine tests. Testing samples of your urine may reveal abnormalities, such as red blood cells and increased amounts of protein, that often indicate a medical problem. If vasculitis has caused kidney problems, your prognosis tends to be poorer.
  • Imaging tests. Your doctor may be able to determine whether larger arteries, such as the aorta and its branches, are affected through the use of noninvasive imaging techniques. These include X-ray, ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • X-rays of your blood vessels (angiogram). During an angiogram, a flexible catheter, resembling a thin straw, is inserted into a large artery or vein. A special dye (contrast medium) is then injected into the catheter, and X-rays are taken as the dye fills these arteries or veins. The outlines of your blood vessels are visible on the resulting X-rays.
  • Removing a piece of the affected blood vessel for testing (biopsy). A surgical procedure to remove a small sample (biopsy) of blood vessel or organ that is affected, such as the skin, kidney, lung or nerve, allows your doctor to examine the tissue for signs of vasculitis.
Oct. 08, 2011