The diagnosis of giant cell arteritis (GCA) is based on the presence of clinical and laboratory features. Color-duplex sonography (CDS) may supplant the limited sensitivity of temporal artery biopsy. The aim of our work was to characterize clinical and laboratory findings in patients with positive CDS for GCA.
Retrospective study of all consecutive patients of our center fulfilling American College of Rheumatology criteria for GCA who performed CDS study between 2009-2019. Data on clinical and laboratory features were compared in two groups: with and without halo sign.
Ninety-one patients were included. Temporal halo sign was identified in 46% of patients. Halo sign was more often present in older patients (77 ± 8 vs 73 ± 8 years, p = 0.022), associated with systemic features (58% vs 42%, p = 0.011), higher erythrocyte sedimentation rate (84 ± 26 vs 74 ± 34 mm/hour, p = 0.020), and lower hemoglobin values (10.9 ± 1.5 vs 12.1 ± 1.6 g/dL, p < 0.001). The number of patients under corticosteroids before CDS was higher in the group without halo (62% vs 33%, p = 0.005). Ischemic stroke occurred in 17 patients (19%), 76% in the vertebrobasilar territory, and stroke was associated with vertebral halo sign (p < 0.001).
Halo sign was present in half of our patients. Previous corticosteroids treatment decreased positive CDS findings. Systemic symptoms and laboratory findings are more notorious in halo sign subgroup of patients. Stroke cases in GCA patients disproportionally affected the posterior circulation. Ultrasonography provides information about a more pronounced systemic involvement and a higher risk of major complications.