The new frontiers of ultrasound in the complex world of vasculitides and scleroderma

Rheumatology (Impact Factor: 4.48). 12/2012; 51 Suppl 7:vii26-30. DOI: 10.1093/rheumatology/kes336


Modern US equipment allows rheumatologists to directly visualize vascular, musculoskeletal, dermal and internal organ structure. In multisystemic and challenging diseases such as vasculitides and scleroderma, where new outcome measures are required in both clinical practice and trials, US measures promise reproducible and objective scores of disease activity and extension. US reveals early pathognonomic abnormalities and may help start early treatment. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Rheumatology. All rights reserved.

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    ABSTRACT: Vasculitis is characterized by a circumferential vessel-wall thickening ('halo'), which can be visualized by modern imaging techniques. In particular, the resolution of ultrasound has increased to 0.1 mm. Ultrasound detects abnormalities that are pathognomonic even in arteries with a diameter below 1 mm. It is particularly helpful in the diagnosis of large-vessel vasculitides, such as classic temporal arteritis, large-vessel giant-cell arteritis (GCA), Takayasu arteritis and idiopathic aortitis. Echocardiography is important for determining cardiac involvement in Takayasu arteritis and also for examining the coronary arteries of children with suspected Kawasaki disease, which is a medium-vessel vasculitis. In small vessel vasculitides ultrasound has only a role for determining the distribution or organ involvement. Fast-track clinics for the diagnosis of GCA help to initiate treatment before complications such as blindness occur; patients receive appointments within 24 h in these clinics. Clinical examination and ultrasound of temporal and axillary arteries are performed by an experienced rheumatologist. In most cases this is able to determine if GCA is present. Temporal artery biopsy can be still carried out in ambivalent cases. The wall swelling of temporal arteries disappears after 2-3 weeks of glucocorticoid treatment. After 3 days of treatment, diagnosis becomes more difficult with ultrasound in some cases. In larger arteries, such as the axillary arteries, wall thickening disappears within months. It tends to be darker (more hypoechoic) in acute disease because of oedema.
    Therapeutic advances in musculoskeletal disease 04/2014; 6(2):39-47. DOI:10.1177/1759720X13512256
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: Patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc; scleroderma) are at high risk for the development of ischemic digital ulcers (DUs), which occur in 35-60% of SSc patients. The aim of this study was to assess the correlation between intrarenal arterial stiffness and DUs in SSc patients and to evaluate the prognostic value of Doppler indices to predict new DU occurrence. Methods: Seventy unselected, consecutive patients with SSc (58 women and 12 men, mean ± SD age 49.5 ± 13.8 years) were enrolled. In all patients, Doppler ultrasound examination was performed. The following Doppler indices of intrarenal stiffness were measured: peak systolic velocity (PSV), end diastolic velocity (EDV), resistive index (RI), pulsatile index (PI), and systolic/diastolic ratio (S/D). Results: In total, 30 (42%) of 70 patients experienced new DUs. RI, S/D, and PI were significantly higher in SSc patients with new DUs than in SSc patients without new DUs. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves demonstrated a good accuracy of new DU prediction for RI (0.94, P < 0.0001), S/D (0.92, P < 0.0001), and PI (0.88, P < 0.0001). Conversely, the ROC curve showed no performance for PSV (0.58, P > 0.05) and EDV (0.28, P > 0.05). Using a cutoff value of 0.70 for RI and 3.25 for S/D, the positive predictive value was 90.6% and 92.9%, respectively. Conclusion: We can conclude that Doppler indices of intrarenal stiffness are reliable markers of new DU occurrence. Doppler indices could be used in association with the capillaroscopic and clinical findings or serologic tests for the identification of patients at high risk of developing DUs.
    09/2014; 66(9). DOI:10.1002/acr.22309