Magnetic Resonance Imaging Abnormalities of the Optic Nerve Sheath and Intracranial Internal Carotid Artery in Giant Cell Arteritis.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is an important diagnostic consideration in elderly patients with vision changes. Superficial temporal artery biopsy (TAB) has long been considered the gold standard diagnostic approach for GCA, but MRI has gained interest as an alternative diagnostic modality. Although most of the literature has focused on imaging abnormalities of branches of the external carotid artery, there have been a few reports of GCA-related inflammatory involvement of the orbit and internal carotid arteries (ICAs) on MRI. METHODS: This was a retrospective cross-sectional study of patients undergoing TAB at a single tertiary referral center over a 5-year period. Patients who had undergone contrast-enhanced MRI of the brain and orbits within 1 month of biopsy were included. Fifty-four TAB-positive and 78 TAB-negative patients were reviewed, with the MRI studies of 7 TAB-positive and 6 TAB-negative patients deemed adequate for interpretation. MRI studies were reviewed by 2 masked neuroradiologists, and the findings were correlated with biopsy results and clinical findings. RESULTS: Intracranial ICA vessel wall enhancement was identified in 6 of 7 TAB-positive patients (sensitivity 86%), compared with 2 of 6 TAB-negative patients (specificity 67%). Optic nerve sheath enhancement was identified in 5 of 7 TAB-positive patients (sensitivity 71%) and in 2 of 6 TAB-negative patients (specificity 67%), bilateral in all such cases. The combination of both abnormal imaging findings was observed in 5 of 7 TAB-positive patients (sensitivity 71%) and in none of the 6 TAB-negative patients (specificity 100%). CONCLUSIONS: Intracranial ICA and optic nerve sheath enhancement were observed in a majority of patients with TAB-proven GCA, and the combination of these findings was highly specific for GCA. Identification of these abnormalities on MRI should raise concern for GCA and prompt a thorough review of systems, laboratory testing, and consideration of TAB in patients with ocular complaints potentially consistent with ischemia.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gospe, SM; Amrhein, TJ; Malinzak, MD; Bhatti, MT; Mettu, P; El-Dairi, MA

Published Date

  • March 1, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 41 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 54 - 59

PubMed ID

  • 31609845

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1536-5166

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/WNO.0000000000000860


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States