JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Systemic polyarteritis nodosa in the young: a single-center experience over thirty-two years.

OBJECTIVE: Polyarteritis nodosa (PAN) is a rare disease of childhood. The aims of this study were to describe the clinical features, treatment, and outcome of systemic childhood PAN and to identify predictors of relapse.

METHODS: A single-center retrospective medical records review of children with PAN fulfilling the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR)/Paediatric Rheumatology European Society (PRES)/Paediatric Rheumatology International Trials Organisation (PRINTO) classification criteria who were seen over a 32-year period was performed. Data on demographic and clinical features, treatments, relapses (recurrence of clinical signs/symptoms or occurrence of new symptoms after initial remission requiring escalation or resumption of immunosuppressive therapy), and deaths were recorded. A disease activity score was retrospectively assigned using the Paediatric Vasculitis Activity Score (PVAS) instrument. Cox regression analysis was used to identify significant predictors of relapse.

RESULTS: Sixty-nine children with PAN were identified; 55% were male, and their median age was 8.5 years (range 0.9-15.8 years). Their clinical features at presentation were fever (87%), myalgia (83%), skin (88%), renal (19%), severe gastrointestinal (GI) (10%), and neurologic (10%) involvement. The PVAS at presentation was 9 of 63 (range 4-24). Histopathologic analysis of the skin showed necrotizing vasculitis in biopsy samples from 40 of 50 children. Results of selective visceral arteriography suggested the presence of PAN in 96% of patients. Treatment included cyclophosphamide and corticosteroids (83%), plasma exchange (9%), and biologic agents (after 2002; 13%). The relapse rate was 35%, and the mortality rate was 4%. Severe GI involvement was associated with increased risk of relapse (P = 0.031), while longer time to induce remission (P = 0.022) and increased cumulative dose of cyclophosphamide (P = 0.005) were associated with lower relapse risk.

CONCLUSION: Childhood PAN is a severe inflammatory disease of insidious onset and variable clinical presentation. Relapses occurred more frequently in those with severe GI involvement. A higher cumulative dose of cyclophosphamide was associated with a lower risk of relapse.

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