Temporal artery compression sign--a novel ultrasound finding for the diagnosis of giant cell arteritis

Ultraschall Med. 2013 Feb;34(1):47-50. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1312821. Epub 2012 Jun 12.


Purpose: In patients with suspected giant cell arteritis (GCA), a search for the perivascular halo sign, a sophisticated color duplex ultrasound (CDU) finding, at experienced centers reliably identifies inflamed temporal arteries (TA). We tested whether TA compression in patients with GCA, a simple, largely operator-independent maneuver, elicits contrasting echogenicity between the diseased artery wall and the surrounding tissue (compression sign).

Materials and methods: 80 individuals with suspected GCA were prospectively enrolled in this single-center study. In all study participants, bilateral ultrasound examination of the TA established the presence/absence of the halo and compression sign. A positive compression sign was defined as visibility of the TA upon transducer-imposed compression of the artery. Based on ACR criteria, a team of specialized physicians independently grouped patients as GCA versus non-GCA.

Results: 43/80 study participants were grouped as GCA. Both the halo sign and the compression sign were positive in 34/43 patients in the GCA group, and negative in all 37/37 of the non-GCA group, resulting in a sensitivity of 79 % and a specificity of 100 % for both the halo and the compression sign.

Conclusion: In this cohort of individuals with suspected GCA, the halo sign and the compression sign were equal in their diagnostic performance. The simplicity of the compression sign suggests a level of reliability warranting further evaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / pathology
  • Pressure
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Temporal Arteries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Transducers
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color / methods*