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Non-invasive imaging in the diagnosis and management of Takayasu’s arteritis
  1. J Andrews1,
  2. A Al-Nahhas2,
  3. D J Pennell3,
  4. M S Hossain2,
  5. K A Davies4,
  6. D O Haskard1,
  7. J C Mason1
  1. 1Rheumatology Section, The Eric Bywaters Centre, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN, UK
  2. 2Department of Nuclear Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN, UK
  3. 3Department of Cardiovascular MR, National Heart and Lung Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Royal Brompton Hospital, Sydney Street, London SW3 6NP, UK
  4. 4Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9PX, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr J Mason
    Cardiovascular Medicine Unit, Bywaters Centre, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN, UK;


Objectives: Takayasu’s arteritis (TA) is a rare disease, in which early diagnosis and assessment of treatment efficacy remain a problem. Signs and symptoms may be non-specific and conventional blood tests unreliable, with vascular inflammation often persisting in the face of a normal acute phase response. The current “gold standard” investigation, x ray angiography, is invasive and only identifies late, structural changes in vessels. Recently, non-invasive imaging methods have shown promise in the assessment of patients with TA.

Methods: The invasive and non-invasive imaging performed on all patients in the rheumatology department at the Hammersmith Hospital between May 1996 and May 2002 who fulfilled the ACR criteria for TA were reviewed. All patients were clinically active at diagnosis and were treated with high dose oral prednisolone and additional oral or intravenous immunosuppression.

Results: Non-invasive imaging methods ([18F]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography ([18F]FDG-PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)) provided important additional information about disease activity ([18F]FDG-PET) and progression of vessel wall thickening (MRI) when compared with x ray angiography.

Conclusions: Non-invasive imaging methods provide useful additional information towards the diagnosis and management of TA. Such techniques may allow earlier diagnosis and more accurate assessment of response to treatment than conventional clinical assessment and/or angiography. Non-invasive imaging is likely to be useful in the management of other large vessel vasculitides.

  • CRP, C reactive protein
  • ESR, erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • [18F]FDG-PET, [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography
  • IA, intra-arterial
  • MRA, magnetic resonance angiography
  • MRI, magnetic resonance imaging
  • TA, Takayasu’s arteritis
  • Takayasu’s arteritis
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • positron emission tomography
  • disease activity
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