Comparison of duplex sonography and high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging in the diagnosis of giant cell (temporal) arteritis

Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Aug;58(8):2574-8. doi: 10.1002/art.23699.


Objective: To compare the diagnostic performance of high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and color-coded duplex sonography (CCDS) in patients with giant cell (temporal) arteritis (GCA).

Methods: Results of high-resolution MRI and CCDS in 59 patients with suspected GCA were compared with the final clinical diagnosis (based on the American College of Rheumatology GCA criteria and a 6-month followup study). Sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values (PPV, NPV) were calculated for each method. In 41 of the patients, imaging results were also compared with the findings of a temporal artery (TA) biopsy.

Results: Thirty-six of the 59 patients (61%) were ultimately diagnosed as having GCA. Sensitivity of high-resolution MRI and CCDS was 69% and 67%, respectively, specificity was 91% and 91%, PPV was 93% and 92%, and NPV was 66% and 64%, respectively. TA biopsy findings were positive in 24 of the 41 biopsied patients (59%). Sensitivity of high-resolution MRI and CCDS compared with TA biopsy was 83% and 79%, respectively, specificity was 71% and 59%, PPV was 80% and 73%, and NPV was 75% and 67%, respectively. The differences between high-resolution MRI and CCDS were not significant.

Conclusion: The diagnostic power of high-resolution MRI and CCDS in detecting GCA was comparable. Either of these noninvasive techniques may have value in the evaluation of patients with suspected GCA, and decisions regarding which technique to use may depend on the clinical setting.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Female
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Temporal Arteries / pathology
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Duplex / methods*