Diagnostic value of axillary artery ultrasound in patients with suspected giant cell arteritis.

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To compare colour duplex ultrasonography (CDU) findings with axillary 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET/CT findings and to compare the diagnostic performance of temporal and axillary artery CDU with temporal artery CDU alone.Patients suspected of GCA were retrospectively included. Presence of a halo or occlusion was considered a positive CDU finding. FDG-PET/CT-assessed axillary artery involvement was defined as axillary artery FDG uptake higher than liver uptake. The reference was the clinical diagnosis after 6 months, which was based on symptomatology and additional diagnostic tests, with the exception of CDU.Of the 113 included patients, GCA was diagnosed in 41. Twenty-eight out of 41 GCA patients underwent a FDG-PET/CT. FDG-PET-assessed extra-cranial GCA was present in 20/41 patients, of which 13 showed axillary involvement on FDG-PET/CT. An axillary halo was found in eight of these 13 patients. Six out of the 20 patients with FDG-PET-assessed GCA showed no axillary involvement on CDU or FDG-PET/CT. Five of them had single artery involvement on FDG-PET/CT (two aorta; three vertebral artery). One patient had an axillary occlusion on CDU, consistent with FDG-PET/CT results. Overall, sensitivity and specificity of temporal artery CDU was 52% (95% CI: 35, 67) and 93% (95% CI: 84, 97), respectively. Adding axillary artery results improved sensitivity to 71% (95% CI: 55, 84), while specificity did not change.Presence of an axillary halo or occlusion on CDU is consistent with axillary artery FDG-PET/CT results, but a negative CDU does not rule out axillary involvement. Adding axillary artery assessment to temporal artery assessment may substantially increase the diagnostic performance of CDU.

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