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Recurrent Stroke in Giant Cell Arteritis Despite Immunotherapy

Cox, Benjamin C. MD; Fulgham, Jimmy R. MD; Klaas, James P. MD

doi: 10.1097/NRL.0000000000000237
Case Report/Case Series

Objective: To describe rare but important cerebrovascular complications of giant cell arteritis (GCA).

Case Report: We report a 59-year-old man who initially presented with vasculitis of the lower extremities. While on steroids, he developed strokes in multiple vascular territories. The conventional angiogram showed stenosis of bilateral carotid and vertebral vessels as they entered the dura. Temporal artery biopsy confirmed GCA. He began cyclophosphamide treatment, which stabilized his clinical course; however, this was switched to tocilizumab by an outside rheumatologist. Two months later, the patient had progression of vessel stenosis and suffered additional strokes. Despite interventions to augment cerebral perfusion, the infarctions continued to expand and the patient passed away.

Conclusions: This case highlights several important features of strokes in GCA: the predilection for the dural entry point of cerebral blood vessels, the progression of disease despite steroids, and the need to quickly escalate treatment in these cases. As seen in our patient, however, this disease carries high morbidity and mortality and patients often have poor outcomes despite aggressive immunosuppression.

Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

B.C.C.: literature review, manuscript writing, figure creation. J.R.F.: literature review, editing. J.P.K.: editing, manuscript supervision, and guidance.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Correspondence to: Benjamin C. Cox, MD, Mayo Clinic Department of Neurology, 200 First St. SW, Rochester, MN 55905. E-mail:

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