Making sure large vessel vasculitis is rapidly diagnosed and quickly treated is critical for preventing long-term and potentially fatal damage. This rather rare condition occurs when blood vessels begin to experience inflammation. Generally believed to be an autoimmune system disorder, large vessel vasculitis can result in not only damage to the blood vessels, but also total blockage that can promote organ failure.
Detecting and treating large vessel vasculitis early is critical for improving patient outcomes and preventing irreversible damage. In most case, the disease is treated by medications that are meant to reduce inflammation Cytotix medications, however, may also be used that are intended to kill the cells that cause the inflammation in the first place.
The first step for treating this condition involves making sure a diagnosis is accurate. Enter positron emission tomography, or the PET scan, for short. This technology, researchers are finding, can be very helpful in diagnosing the condition while avoiding the need for temporal artery biopsies at the onset of the diagnostic procedure.
To gauge the effectiveness of PET scans, researchers looked at records from 20 patients who had been screened using the scans and/or biopsies. Ten of the patients were ultimately diagnosed with the condition following the PET scans. Five of these patients had prior biopsies that were negative. Seven of the remaining 10 patients had also undergone previous biopsies. The results of the two testing procedures matched up.
While the full implications of the study remain unknown, the results point to the potential PET scans may have in helping people avoid more invasive biopsies. At the very least, PET scans may serve as a valuable step in confirming diagnosis so more immediate and accurate treatments may begin.
Although rare, large vessel vasculitis is a serious condition that does require treatment. People who are concerned about this condition are urged to speak with their healthcare providers.