CT analysis of the aorta in giant-cell arteritis: a case-control study
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Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is a large-vessel vasculitis whose diagnosis is confirmed by temporal artery biopsy. However, involvement of large vessels, especially the aorta, can be shown by imaging, which plays an increasing role in GCA diagnosis. The threshold above which aortic wall thickening, as measured by computed tomography (CT), is considered pathological is controversial, with values ranging from 2 to 3 mm. This study assessed aortic morphology by CT scan and its diagnostic value in GCA.
Altogether, 174 patients were included (64 with GCA, 43 with polymyalgia rheumatica and 67 controls). All patients had a CT scan at diagnosis or at inclusion for controls. Aortic wall thickness, aortic diameter and scores for atheroma were measured. Assessor was blinded to each patient’s group.
Aortic diameters and atheroma scores were similar between groups. Aortic wall thickness was greater in the GCA group, even after the exclusion of GCA patients with aortic wall thickness ≥3 mm. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve showed that a wall thickness of 2.2 mm was the optimal threshold to diagnose GCA (sensitivity, 67%; specificity, 98%).
Measuring aortic wall thickness by CT scan is effective to diagnose GCA. The optimal threshold to regard aortic wall thickening as pathological was ≥2.2 mm.
• Imaging, including CT scan, plays an increasing role in GCA diagnosis
• CT measurement of aortic wall thickness is useful to diagnose GCA
• A 2.2-mm threshold allows the diagnosis of thickened aortic wall in GCA
KeywordsGiant cell aortitis Arteritis Thoracic aorta Atherosclerosis CT angiography
American College of Rheumatology
Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate
European League Against Rheumatism
Giant Cell Arteritis
French Health Authority
Temporal Artery Biopsy
We thank P.B. for his help in revising the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
The scientific guarantor of this publication is Romaric Loffroy.
Conflict of interest
The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies, whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article.
Statistics and biometry
One of the authors, Serge Aho-Glélé, has significant statistical expertise.
Written informed consent was waived by the Institutional Review Board.
Institutional Review Board approval was obtained.
• case-control study
• performed at one institution
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