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Colour Doppler imaging in giant cell (temporal) arteritis: serial examination and comparison with non-arteritic anterior ischaemic optic neuropathy

F D Ghanchi, T H Williamson, C S Lim, Z Butt, G M Baxter, G McKillop, C O'Brien
Eye 1996, 10 ( Pt 4): 459-64
The ophthalmological manifestations of giant cell arteritis (GCA) present a difficult diagnostic and management problem to the ophthalmologist. The orbital circulation is frequently involved in the disease process. The effects of GCA on orbital blood flow assessed by colour Doppler imaging (CDI) were investigated in this study. Serial CDI examinations of the orbital blood vessels were performed (at presentation, 2 days, 1 week and at 1 month) on 7 patients with GCA. CDI examination at presentation was also performed on 4 patients with non-arteritic anterior ischaemic optic neuropathy (AION) for comparison. Blood flow could not be detected in up to three arteries in the affected (ipsilateral) orbit of 6 GCA patients at presentation. Five of these patients were also found to have undetectable blood flow in the posterior ciliary arteries of the contralateral orbit. Serial CDI examination revealed blood flow alterations in arteritic patients despite treatment. Return of blood flow to normal was slow, and related to the clinical features. By contrast, only 1 of the patients with non-arteritic AION showed undetectable blood flow in a posterior ciliary artery. GCA leads to widespread and prolonged alterations in orbital blood flow. CDI allows the detection and monitoring of such alterations in orbital blood flow, which correlate with the clinical features of GCA. Serial CDI examinations in GCA may be used to aid management decisions.

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