Scalp necrosis in giant cell arteritis: Case report and review of the relevance of this cutaneous sign of large-vessel vasculitis
ABSTRACT Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is a systemic vasculitis associated with severe complications such as loss of vision and, rarely, scalp necrosis. We present a patient with GCA who had bilateral scalp necrosis and an erythrocyte sedimentation rate of only 21 mm after the first hour. Therapy with systemic steroids, which were slowly tapered over 1 year, led to secondary wound healing without recurrence. As there are no systematic reviews on the occurrence of scalp necrosis in patients with GCA, we performed a literature research and meta-analysis and discovered 78 cases published between 1946 and 2007. Analysis of the data revealed that GCA with scalp necrosis is associated with a higher incidence of vision loss (32%) and other visual defects (37.3%) than GCA without scalp necrosis (visual disturbances in up to 20%). GCA with scalp necrosis is also associated with an increased mortality (standard mortality ratio [SMR], 4.2) in contrast to GCA without scalp necrosis, which has no significantly higher mortality than age-matched controls (SMR 0.8-1.034). In patients with scalp necrosis, the diagnosis of GCA was made about 1 month later than in patients without scalp necrosis, and scalp necrosis was never reported to occur after onset of therapy with glucocorticoids. Thus, for reasons beyond potential loss of vision, physicians should be alert for symptoms of GCA as only timely diagnosis and immediate therapy may prevent serious complications and increased mortality.
Circulation 07/2014; 130(4):348-9. DOI:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.009703 · 14.95 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Spinal cord infarction is extremely rare in patients with giant cell arteritis (GCA). There are only four case reports in the literature. We describe a 65-year-old man who presented with sudden paraplegia and back pain of 4-days duration with sensory loss below the umbilicus and bilateral scalp necrosis. Magnetic resonance imaging finding was consistent with dorsal spinal cord infarction. Biopsy of the temporal artery confirmed the diagnosis of GCA. The patient was treated with high dose of corticosteroids, which resulted in healing of the scalp ulcerations in 3 weeks, but the paraplegia was irreversible. To our knowledge, this is the first report of spinal cord infarction and simultaneous occurrence of bilateral scalp necrosis in a histopathologically proven GCA. Although literature about spinal cord involvement in GCA is very limited, cord infarction is associated with high mortality and therapeutic challenges since little is understood regarding the pathogenesis that leads to infarction.Rheumatology International 07/2014; 35(2). DOI:10.1007/s00296-014-3089-9 · 1.63 Impact Factor
Article: Giant Cell Arteritis[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is a medium and large-vessel vasculitis, which is an important cause of secondary headache in older adults. While GCA has a classic presentation occurring after the age of 50, atypical presentations (eg, fever of unknown origin, cough, low or normal erythrocyte sedimentation rate) may lead to a delay in diagnosis. The topography of vascular involvement has implications for disease-related complications, which can result in neurologic disease at multiple levels of the nervous system. The most feared complication, vision loss, fortunately becomes uncommon after initiation of corticosteroids. Corticosteroid treatment should not be withheld while waiting the results of a temporal artery biopsy (TAB), which remains the gold standard for GCA diagnosis. Newer diagnostic modalities, including ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, and positron emission tomography can play an important role in directing treatment in cases with negative TAB. After successful control of the disorder, patients should be gradually tapered off corticosteroids, with careful monitoring using both clinical and laboratory parameters to assess for relapse. Corticosteroid-related treatment complications are not uncommon in GCA. There is mixed evidence for use of adjunct corticosteroid-sparing agents (eg, methotrexate), although these should be initiated in the setting of corticosteroid-related morbidity and/or cases with frequent relapse.Headache The Journal of Head and Face Pain 08/2014; 54(8). DOI:10.1111/head.12425 · 3.19 Impact Factor