The Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score as a Measure of Disease Activity in Patients with Giant Cell Arteritis Academic Article uri icon

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  • Objective.To evaluate the performance of the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score (BVAS) in the assessment of disease activity in giant cell arteritis (GCA).Methods.Patients with GCA enrolled in a prospective, multicenter, longitudinal study with symptoms of active vasculitis during any visit were included. Spearman’s rank correlation was used to explore the association of the BVAS with other measures of disease activity.Results.During a mean (SD) followup of 2.3 (1.6) years, symptoms of active GCA were present in 236 visits in 136 subjects (100 female, 74%). Median (range) BVAS1 (new/worse symptoms) was 1 (0–10) and median (range) BVAS2 (persistent symptoms) was 0 (0–5). Median (range) physician’s global assessment (PGA) was 4 (0–9) for disease activity in the past 28 days and 2 (0–9) for activity on the day of the visit. Important ischemic manifestations of active vasculitis not recorded by the BVAS included tongue/jaw claudication (27%), upper extremity claudication (15%), lower extremity claudication (5%), carotidynia (7%), and ischemic retinopathy (5%). During 25 visits (11%) with active disease, all symptoms of active vasculitis were placed in the “Other” category yet still resulted in a BVAS1 and BVAS2 of 0. BVAS1 moderately correlated with PGA for the past 28 days (Spearman’s correlation 0.50) and physician-rated disease activity for the past 28 days (Spearman’s correlation 0.46).Conclusion.The BVAS has limited utility in GCA. Patients with active GCA can have a BVAS of 0. Many important ischemic symptoms attributable to active vasculitis are not included in the composite score.


  • Kermani, Tanaz A
  • Cuthbertson, David
  • Carette, Simon
  • Hoffman, Gary S
  • Khalidi, Nader
  • Koening, Curry L
  • Langford, Carol A
  • McKinnon-Maksimowicz, Kathleen
  • McAlear, Carol A
  • Monach, Paul A
  • Seo, Philip
  • Warrington, Kenneth J
  • Ytterberg, Steven R
  • Merkel, Peter A
  • Matteson, Eric L

publication date

  • June 2016