Colour Doppler ultrasound displays a pathognomonic circumferential wall thickening in large-vessel vasculitis. Even rather small arteries like the temporal arteries can be easily examined with modern ultrasound equipment. In addition, ultrasound can detect stenoses and acute arterial occlusions. In large-vessel giant cell arteritis, the axillary arteries are most commonly involved. Takayasu arteritis affects particularly the left subclavian and the left common carotid arteries. As ultrasound diagnosis at the temporal arteries becomes more difficult already after a few days of glucocorticoid treatment in some patients, institutions are implementing fast-track clinics for which patients receive an appointment within 24 hours. An experienced rheumatologist is able to establish a definite diagnosis in most cases with standardised history, clinical examination and ultrasound of temporal and axillary arteries. Furthermore, early diagnosis and treatment may prevent blindness.
Via Hospital Medicine Virtual Journal Club.