Wegener's Granulomatosis

Wegener’s granulomatosis (WG) is a rare disease that causes the walls of blood vessels to become inflamed, a condition called vasculitis. This limits blood flow to tissues and can affect any organ. The outlook is good with proper treatment, but without it, WG is fatal.

  • Causes

    WG is a type of autoimmune disease. This means the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. The cause is unknown.

  • Definition

    Wegener’s granulomatosis (WG) is a rare disease that causes the walls of blood vessels to become inflamed, a condition called vasculitis. This limits blood flow to tissues and can affect any organ. The outlook is good with proper treatment, but without it, WG is fatal.

    Damage to Kidney Due to Decreased Blood Flow
    Kidney damage
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may do tests to rule out other conditions, determine which organs are involved, or to confirm the diagnosis. Tests may include:

    • Blood tests
    • Urine tests
    • Biopsy
      —removal of a sample of affected tissue


    Imaging tests to see internal body structures include
    chest x-ray
    or
    CT scan
    .

  • Prevention

    There are no current guidelines to prevent Wegener's granulomatosis.

  • Risk Factors

    WG does not appear to be passed from one generation to the next. It is more common in Caucasians, and in people of middle age.

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms and their severity vary from one person to another. In most cases, ear, nose, and throat symptoms appear first. These symptoms do not respond to normal treatment and worsen over time.

    WG can cause common cold- or flu-like symptoms such as:

    • Fever
    • Achy joints and muscles
    • Headache
    • Overall feeling of discomfort or fatigue
    • Lack of appetite
    • Weight loss

    Common respiratory tract symptoms associated with WG may include:

    • Hearing problems
    • Ear pain
    • Mid-facial pain
    • Persistent nasal discharge, with crusts or sores that do not heal
    • Recurrent nosebleeds
    • Discharge from the ear
    • Recurrent ear infection
    • Ulcers in the mouth and nose
    • Wheezing
    Areas of Sinus Pain
    Sinus Headache: Areas of Pain
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  • Treatment

    WG is treated with medications. Some are used to induce remission, while others are used for maintenance once remission is achieved.