Session Type: ACR Poster Session A
Session Time: 9:00AM-11:00AM
Background/Purpose: Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is the most common systemic vasculitis in patients aged 50 years or older. The presence of cranial features and an abnormal temporal artery biopsy have historically been the primary focus for diagnosis of this condition. A notable percentage of patients with GCA have negative temporal artery biopsies. Few cohort studies exist comparing the presentation and outcome of patients based on biopsy positivity.
Methods: Patients with temporal artery biopsy-negative GCA diagnosed between 1/1/1998 and 12/31/2013 were identified retrospectively. Final diagnosis was confirmed by consensus among two rheumatologists and a physician abstractor. Clinical characteristics, treatment course and outcomes were compared to a cohort of biopsy-positive patients with GCA (n=286) from the same institution.
110 patients with temporal artery biopsy-negative GCA were identified. Unilateral biopsies were performed in 73, bilateral-sequential in 10, and bilateral same day in 27 cases. Median duration between steroid initiation and biopsy was 3 days. Median length of first biopsy was 14mm and second biopsy (if performed) was 22mm. Among biopsy-negative patients with advanced imaging within 6-months of diagnosis, 67% (41/61) had evidence of large vessel vasculitis.
Patients with biopsy-negative GCA were younger (72.0±9.0 vs 75.0±7.6; p=0.001), met fewer ACR criteria (≥3 criteria 64% vs 95%; p<0.001) and had a shorter time from symptom onset to diagnosis (median 1.1 vs 2.1 months; p<0.001). Vascular risk factors evaluated at diagnosis showed a higher rate of pre-existing hypertension and obesity among patient with biopsy-negative GCA but similar rates of smoking and diabetes mellitus. Frequency of headache and vision loss at time of presentation were similar between groups. However, biopsy-negative GCA patients had more temporal artery tenderness (35% vs 16%; p<0.001) and arm claudication (13% vs 2%; p<0.001) but less frequent jaw claudication (19% vs 52%; p<0.001). Anorexia, fatigue, and arthralgia were also more commonly noted in biopsy-negative patients. Baseline CRP was lower among patients with negative biopsies (44.3±53.6 vs 70.4±63.9 mg/L; p<0.001).
Initial prednisone dose was similar among both cohorts. Although cumulative glucocorticoid (GC) was lower in biopsy-negative patients at 1 year (6.3±2.6 vs 7.2±2.7 g; p=0.004), cumulative GC doses at 2-years and 5-years were equivalent. Biopsy-positive patients (5-years, 56±3%) were able to discontinue GC sooner than biopsy-negative patients (5-years, 30±5%; p<0.001). The number of relapses, time-to-first relapse, annual relapse rate and mortality did not differ based on biopsy positivity.
Conclusion: While similarities are present, there are notable differences in clinical presentation between biopsy-positive and -negative GCA. Although current ACR criteria underperform in patients with biopsy-negative GCA, imaging studies are often useful for confirmation of diagnosis. Further studies are needed to confirm and understand the observed variability in GC duration.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:Koster MJ, Yeruva K, Crowson CS, Warrington KJ. Differences between Temporal Artery Biopsy-Positive and Biopsy-Negative Giant Cell Arteritis: A Comparative Cohort Study [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2017; 69 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/differences-between-temporal-artery-biopsy-positive-and-biopsy-negative-giant-cell-arteritis-a-comparative-cohort-study/. Accessed December 9, 2021.
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ACR Meeting Abstracts - https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/differences-between-temporal-artery-biopsy-positive-and-biopsy-negative-giant-cell-arteritis-a-comparative-cohort-study/