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Stroke. 1996 Dec;27(12):2178-82.

Ultrasonographic study and long-term follow-up of Takayasu's arteritis.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei.



Takayasu's arteritis is an inflammatory vasculopathy involving the aorta and its major branches. Little information is available on the natural history and temporal profile of changes in the carotid vessels, the major vessels involved in Takayasu's arteritis. Duplex ultrasonography may provide a reliable and efficient tool for the characterization and follow-up of the brachiocephalic vascular changes in Takayasu's arteritis.


Sixteen female patients fulfilling the clinical diagnostic criteria for Takayasu's arteritis were studied. Mean age at onset was 23.6 years (SD = 6.0), and mean duration of follow-up was 17.1 years (SD = 11.9). The clinical features were analyzed. Only one patient had had a stroke. They had undergone at least one duplex scanning examination to evaluate the brachiocephalic vessels, including the extracranial carotid, vertebral, and subclavian arteries. Six patients underwent sequential duplex examination and long-term clinical follow-up.


All the studied patients had subclavian artery involvement, and 11 (69%) had common carotid artery involvement. The percentage of bilateral concomitant involvement was 100% in the common carotid artery and 33% in the subclavian artery. Homogeneous circumferential intima-media thickening was commonly seen in stenotic common carotid arteries (89%). Four patients had internal carotid artery involvement (all on the left side). In the serial duplex follow-up study, 2 of 6 patients had progressive vascular stenosis with concentric thickening, rather than longitudinal spreading, in the bilateral common carotid arteries. Left-side lesions were more prominent. Most were clinically stationary, despite severe stenosis or occlusion of the common carotid arteries.


The characteristic vascular lesions and progression changes in Takayasu's arteritis detected by duplex ultrasonography are quite different from those seen in ordinary atherosclerosis. Homogeneous circumferential intima-media thickening of the common carotid arteries is a highly specific ultrasonographic finding in patients with Takayasu's arteritis, particularly young women. Sequential duplex scanning showed vascular progression to be unpredictable and unrelated to medication in our patients. Further clinical investigations of vascular progression are warranted, and duplex scanning may provide a simple, safe, and accurate long-term means of follow-up.

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