Magnetic resonance imaging compared to ultrasonography in giant cell arteritis: a cross-sectional study Yip, Ashley; Jernberg, Elizabeth T; Bardi, Mohammad; Geiger, Julia; Lohne, Frode; Schmidt, Wolfgang A; Myklebust, Geirmund; Diamantopoulos, Andreas P
Background: There has been a shift in recent years to using ultrasound (US) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as first-line investigations for suspected cranial large vessel vasculitis (LVV) and is a new recommendation by the EULAR 2018 guidelines for imaging in LVV. This cross-sectional study compares the performance of US and MRI and contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) for detecting vasculitis in patients with giant cell arteritis (GCA). Methods: Patients with new-onset or already diagnosed GCA were recruited. The common temporal arteries and supra-aortic large vessels were evaluated by US and MRI/MRA. Blinded experts read the images and applied a dichotomous score (vasculitis: yes/no) in each vessel. Results: Thirty-seven patients with giant cell arteritis (GCA) were recruited. Two patients were excluded. Of the remaining patients, nine had new-onset disease and 26 had established disease. Mean age was 71 years, and median C-reactive protein (CRP) was 7.5 mg/L. The median time between US and MRI was 1 day. Overall, US revealed vasculitic changes more frequently than MRI (p < 0.001). US detected vascular changes in 37% of vessels compared to 21% with MRI. Among patients with chronic disease, US detected vascular changes in 23% of vessels compared to 7% with MRI in (p < 0.001). The same was true for patients with new-onset disease. US detected vasculitic changes in 22% of vessels and MRI detected disease in 6% (p = 0.0004). Compared to contrast-enhanced MRA, US was more sensitive in detecting vasculitic changes in the large arteries, including the axillary, carotid, and subclavian arteries. Conclusion: US more frequently detects vasculitic changes in the large arteries compared to contrast-enhanced MRA. When evaluating the cranial vessels, US performs similarly to MRI. This data supports the recommendation that US be considered as a first-line evaluation in patients suspected to have GCA.
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