Arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (A-AION) caused by inflammatory occlusion of the posterior ciliary arteries is the most common reason for irreversible vision loss in patients with giant cell arteritis. Atypical clinical presentation and negative funduscopy can delay systemic high-dose corticosteroid therapy to prevent impending permanent blindness and involvement of the contralateral eye.Objectives
The purpose of this study was to assess the diagnostic accuracy of 3-dimensional (3D) high-resolution T1-weighted black-blood magnetic resonance imaging (T1-BB-MRI) for the detection of posterior ciliary artery involvement in patients with giant cell arteritis and funduscopic A-AION.Materials and Methods
After institutional review board approval and informed consent, 27 patients with suspected giant cell arteritis and vision disturbances were included in this monocentric prospective cohort study. Giant cell arteritis was diagnosed in 18 patients according to the diagnostic reference standard (6 men, 73.8 [69.0–78.0] years); 14 of those were positive for A-AION. Precontrast and postcontrast 3D T1-BB-MRI was performed in all 27 patients. Two radiologists separately assessed image quality and local fat suppression (4-point scale), visual contrast enhancement (3-point scale), and diagnostic confidence (5-point scale) regarding arteritic posterior ciliary artery involvement. Magnetic resonance imaging findings were assessed in comparison to funduscopy. Statistical analysis included accuracy parameters and interrater agreement.Results
Sensitivity of 3D T1-BB-MRI was 92.9% (95% confidence interval, 66.1%–99.8%) and specificity was 92.3% (95% confidence interval, 64.0%–99.8%) for detection of A-AION–positive patients. Image quality and local fat suppression were assessed with 3.2 ± 0.8 (median 3) and 3.8 ± 0.5 (median 4). Visual contrast enhancement with 2.3 ± 0.8 (median 3) and diagnostic confidence was rated at 4.7 ± 0.5 (median 5). Interrater agreement was high (κ = 0.85, P < 0.001). Three-dimensional T1-BB-MRI displayed bilateral findings in 50% of the cases, whereas only unilateral A-AION was detected in funduscopy as a possible indication for the contralateral eye at risk.Conclusions
Three-dimensional T1-BB-MRI allows accurate detection of arteritic posterior ciliary artery involvement in patients with A-AION. Further, 3D T1-BB-MRI seems to display arteritic involvement of the posterior ciliary arteries earlier than funduscopy and might, therefore, display “vision-at-risk” in patients with visual impairment and suspected giant cell arteritis but unremarkable funduscopy.