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Variations in the clinical practice of physicians managing Takayasu arteritis: a nationwide survey

Authors Barra L, Liang P, Benseler SM, Cabral DA, Fifi-Mah A, Li Y, Milman N, Twilt M, Yacyshyn E, Pagnoux C

Received 10 January 2017

Accepted for publication 7 February 2017

Published 5 May 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 91—99


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Chuan-Ju Liu

Lillian Barra,1 Patrick Liang,2 Susanne M Benseler,3 David A Cabral,4 Aurore Fifi-Mah,5 Yueyang Li,1 Nataliya Milman,6 Marinka Twilt,3 Elaine Yacyshyn,7 Christian Pagnoux8

1Division of Rheumatology, The University of Western Ontario, St Joseph’s Health Care, London, Ontario, 2Division of Rheumatology, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, 3Division of Rheumatology, Department of Paediatrics, Alberta Children’s Hospital, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, 4Division of Rheumatology, BC Children’s Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia, 5Division of Rheumatology, South Health Campus, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, 6Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, 7Division of Rheumatology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, 8Department of Rheumatology, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Objective: Takayasu arteritis (TAK) is a large vessel vasculitis that predominately affects young women and can cause severe ischemic complications. Given the rarity of TAK, the management of this condition is challenging. We aim to describe current rheumatologist practices for the management of TAK and identify discrepancies and gaps in knowledge.
An online survey (developed by the Canadian Vasculitis Network and approved by the Canadian Rheumatology Association) containing 48 questions with regard to the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of TAK was distributed to 495 Canadian adult and pediatric rheumatologists by email.
Sixty-six rheumatologists completed the survey (13% response rate): the majority (73%) were from academic centers and ≤25% reported managing more than ten patients in their career. For establishing the diagnosis of TAK, they relied on a combination of signs and symptoms of ischemia, elevations of inflammatory markers and vascular imaging (typically computed tomography and magnetic resonance angiography). The frequency of monitoring for disease activity and the methods employed (clinical, laboratory or imaging) were variable. All physicians used corticosteroids for the treatment of TAK, but 42% would treat for at least 6–12 months, 26% for 12–24 months and 23% would never stop corticosteroids. Fifty-three percent would always use an immunosuppressant (most commonly methotrexate or azathioprine) in addition to corticosteroids and the remainder would only start an immunosuppressant in patients with refractory or relapsing disease.
Physician practices for the management of TAK are variable, suggesting that there are knowledge gaps, which may impact outcomes in patients with TAK.

Keywords: Takayasu arteritis, physician practice patterns, practice guidelines, large vessel vasculitis, aortitis

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