Objectives To review the literature in order to estimate how many previously unknown thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAAs) and thoracic aortic dilatations (TADs) might be detected by systematic, cross-sectional aortic imaging of patients with giant cell arteritis (GCA).
Methods A systematic literature review was performed using Ovid Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Library. Studies potentially relevant to TAA/TAD were evaluated by two authors independently for relevance, bias and heterogeneity. Meta-analysis was performed using a random-effects model to estimate pooled prevalence.
Results Two analyses of routinely collected administrative data suggested a threefold risk of TAA/dissection in GCA compared with controls. In GCA cohorts without systematic imaging, 2–8% had TAA. In the two best-reported studies, aneurysm dissection/rupture occurred in 1% and 6% of GCA cases. Aortic imaging studies had a variety of TAA/TAD definitions, imaging methods and time points. There were limited data on age-matched controls. Three studies suggested that male sex may be a risk factor for TAA/TAD in GCA. On average, five to ten patients with GCA would need aortic imaging to detect one previously unknown TAA/TAD.
Conclusions The data support an association between GCA and TAA/TAD compared with age-matched controls, but the true relative risk, and the time course of that risk, remains unclear. It is also unclear whether chest radiography is a sufficiently sensitive screening tool. Clinicians should retain a high index of suspicion for aortic pathology in patients with GCA. Before ordering imaging, clinicians should consider whether, and how, detecting aortic pathology would affect a patient's management.
- Giant Cell Arteritis
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Cardiovascular Disease
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