Objective: Takayasu arteritis is a large-vessel vasculitis that occurs predominantly in young females. The diagnosis is not usually established before arterial stenoses or occlusions are present. The aim of the study was to find out if sonography can aid in the diagnosis of the disease in earlier stages.
Methods: We describe three patients with early disease who had no haemodynamically relevant stenoses. They are compared with nine patients who were diagnosed in the stenotic/occlusive stage of the disease. All patients were German Caucasian females. Colour Doppler sonography and angiography were performed in all cases.
Results: Patients with early disease had general symptoms of fatigue and arthralgia and laboratory signs of inflammation, but neither bruits nor decrease of pulse rate. Sonography of the carotid and subclavian arteries demonstrated a characteristic, homogeneous, midechoic, circumferential thickening of the wall. At this stage of the disease it was difficult to get unequivocal results with angiography. In all nine remaining patients, sonography also demonstrated inflammation of the subclavian or carotid arteries, as did angiography in eight of these patients.
Conclusion: Sonography of the carotid and subclavian arteries aids in the detection of early Takayasu arteritis. In young females with unclear symptoms and laboratory findings of generalized inflammation, the primary extracranial branches of the aortic arch should be investigated by sonography to detect early Takayasu arteritis.