In a class of diseases known as autoimmune disorders, the body's immune system attacks its own tissues. Some of these diseases are similar to each other. They may involve arthritis and inflammation of arteries in the tissues. People who developed these disorders were previously said to have "connective tissue" or "collagen vascular" disease. We now have names for many specific conditions such as:
When a specific disease cannot be diagnosed, more general terms may be used. These are called undifferentiated systemic rheumatic (connective tissue) diseases or overlap syndromes.
Reviewed By: Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.