The limited role of MRI in long-term follow-up of patients with Takayasu's arteritis

Autoimmun Rev. 2011 Dec;11(2):132-6. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2011.09.002. Epub 2011 Sep 17.


Introduction: MRI and MRA are used for diagnosis and activity determination of patients with Takayasu's arteritis (TA). However, there is a limited experience regarding the role of MRI in long-term follow-up of those patients. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the clinical usefulness of MRI in the long-term follow-up of patients with Takayasu's disease.

Materials and methods: The clinical data of 11 TA patients, who obtained two or more follow-up MRI scans, was matched with the imaging results. MRI examinations were considered positive for disease activity when one of the following findings was noted: new arterial wall enhancement or interval appearance of anatomical changes (interval dilatation, stenosis or occlusion or new arterial wall irregularity). Conversely, MRI examinations were considered to show signs of improvement when local enhancement disappeared, or when a stenosis was relieved. Disease activity was determined by the combination of worsening localizing ischemic signs and symptoms, systemic signs and symptoms (malaise, fever, etc.), and elevated blood markers (CRP and ESR).

Results: A total of 47 MRI examinations were performed in 11 patients (1 male, mean age 28, range 14-53 years) with a total follow-up time ranging between 12 and 56 months (average 36 months). MRI was positive for active disease at least once in nine out of the 11 patients (82%). The most commonly affected arteries were the aortic arch, the left subclavian artery and the left common carotid artery. No statistically significant correlation was found between clinical activity and MRI signs of activity.

Conclusion: Although MRI is a well established modality for primary diagnosis of TA, the present study suggests that it has a limited clinical role in the long-term follow-up of those patients when reactivation of disease is suspected.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Sedimentation
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Carotid Artery, Common / pathology
  • Constriction, Pathologic / complications
  • Constriction, Pathologic / diagnosis*
  • Constriction, Pathologic / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Subclavian Artery / pathology*
  • Takayasu Arteritis / complications
  • Takayasu Arteritis / diagnosis*
  • Takayasu Arteritis / pathology


  • C-Reactive Protein