Giant cell arteritis (GCA) and Takayasu arteritis are the two conditions which most commonly cause large vessel vasculitis. GCA, also known as temporal arteritis, is the most common form of vasculitis in older people and can lead to serious complications including sudden-onset vision loss and damage to the large blood arteries in the chest and neck if not identified and treated promptly. Patients usually experience one or more of five cardinal symptoms – namely headache, jaw pain on chewing, vision disturbance, inflammatory shoulder and hip stiffness (polymyalgia rheumatica) and night sweats/unexplained weight loss. If your GP or specialist suspects you may have GCA you will be started on treatment immediately while a diagnosis is confirmed. Dr Sammel can help to decide on an appropriate diagnostic strategy which may include a PET scan, ultrasound and/or temporal artery biopsy and a management pathway to control the condition while minimising medication side effects.
Takayasu arteritis affects younger people, usually under the age of 40. It causes inflammation of the major arteries in the chest/abdomen and neck. It has historically been known as the pulseless disease as patients or their doctors may notice an absent pulse in an arm or leg due to blood vessel blockage from untreated inflammation. Patients often feel generally unwell and may have night sweats, fevers and/or weight loss due to immune system attack on their body.
As this condition affects younger people, the diagnosis and treatment strategy must take into account other life priorities including reproductive health and minimising radiation from medical imaging tests.
Polyarteritis nodosa is a condition which primarily affects medium sized arteries including those supplying the kidney, gut, nerves and skin. This condition is commonly but not always associated with hepatitis viruses. Patients can experience symptoms related to any part of the body but commonly will experience one or more of rash, new nerve pain or numbness , abdominal pain and/or unexplained sweats and weight loss.
Medium and large vessel vasculitis conditions treated by Dr Sammel include:
- Giant cell arteritis
- Takayasu arteritis
- Polyarteritis nodosa
- Isolated aortitis
- Aortitis due to other inflammatory conditions (eg sarcoidosis, IgG4)