Large-vessel involvement in recent-onset giant cell arteritis: a case-control colour-Doppler sonography study

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2012 Apr;51(4):730-4. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ker329. Epub 2011 Dec 16.


Objectives: The prevalence of large-vessel vasculitis (LVV) in newly diagnosed GCA is still debated. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of LVV in newly diagnosed GCA using colour-Doppler sonography (CDS) and to compare the clinical and laboratory findings of GCA patients with and without LVV.

Methods: Sixty-two consecutive patients with new-onset GCA underwent CDS of the epiaortic vessels and of the aorta. The identified patients with LVV were randomly matched (1 : 2 ratio) to GCA patients without LVV.

Results: In 18 (29%) out of 62 patients, CDS showed the characteristic halo sign indicative of vasculitis in at least one vessel examined. Three patients had insufficient documentation and were excluded from the comparative analysis. Compared with patients without LVV, those with LVV were more frequently female (100 vs 73%), less likely to have cranial manifestations (73 vs 97%) and borderline less likely to have jaw claudication (13 vs 43%, P = 0.05). The two groups had similar ages at diagnosis, prevalence of constitutional manifestations and rates of positive temporal artery biopsies.

Conclusions: LVV evidenced by CDS was found in 29% of patients with newly diagnosed GCA. This prevalence is similar to that found in previous studies with a similar design. GCA patients with LVV had less frequent cranial manifestations. Early diagnosis of LVV in GCA can help tailor treatment accordingly and may prevent vascular complications.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aorta / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Subclavian Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color / methods