New Clinic Offers Rapid Evaluation for Giant Cell Arteritis Patients

Multidisciplinary Team Delivers Rapid Care for Patients with Giant Cell Arteritis to Prevent Irreversible Vision Loss and Other Serious Complications

Recently established to expedite care for patients with giant cell arteritis, the new Fast Track Clinic for Giant Cell Arteritis comprises a multidisciplinary team of rheumatologists, vascular medicine specialists, vascular surgeons, and pathologists from the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, and Department of Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“While giant cell arteritis is the most common of the systemic vasculitides, it can be associated with serious complications,” said William P. Docken, MD, Co-Director of the Fast Track Clinic for Giant Cell Arteritis. “Currently, permanent vision loss occurs in 10-20 percent of reported case series, but this is preventable with prompt diagnosis and timely initiation of treatment.”

To prevent these complications, patients are quickly evaluated within one day of referral by a rheumatologist and by vascular ultrasound examination of the temporal and axillary arteries to diagnose giant cell arteritis. If warranted, urgent temporal artery biopsy also is arranged.

Specialized Noninvasive Imaging for Definitive Diagnosis

With a resolution of 0.1mm, vascular ultrasound can visualize the temporal arteries and their branches. In the presence of active arteritis, a hypochogenic area appears around the vascular lumen. The technique is noninvasive and provides immediate data; additionally, it can visualize large arteries, such as the axillary and subclavian arteries. More than 400 vascular ultrasound examinations have been conducted in the Vascular Lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital over the past three years.

Access and Referrals

If you would like to refer a patient, please call our dedicated line at (617) 732-9562 or email us at fasttrackgca@partners.org.

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