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Takayasu's arteritis

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An inflammatory disease of the aorta that occludes one or more of the large branches of the aortic arch. This decreases the flow of blood to the areas supplied by these branches, which in turn leads to a lack of pulse in those areas - arms, legs, head - cerebral symptoms. Symptoms consist of aphasia, transient hemiparesis, unilateral transient amblyopia or persistent blindness, headache, vertigo, syncopal attacks, and muscle wasting. Takayasu noted the lack of pulse in the arteries of the eye, thus the name pulseless disease. Most common in the Orient and showing predilection for young women, but also occurring in males throughout the world. It is a chronic relapsing disorder which may extend from childhood to late adult life and seldom occurs in persons over 40 years of age. The condition is progressive, and the prognosis is poor. Death usually occurs after a few years, although survival for 20 years after onset of symptoms has been reported. Probably of autoimmune origin.

This vascular disturbance was first described by Mikito Takayasu, a Japanese ophthalmologist, at the 12th Annual Meeting of the Japan Ophthalmology Society in 1908. His patient was a 21-year-old Japanese girl with retinal neovascularization and absence of pulses in the superior extremities. Subsequently 57 cases have been reported. Less than 40 additional cases have been reported in the world literature, mainly by European writers. Since the excellent descriptions by Martorell and Fabre in 1944 and 1954, the condition has also been referred to as «Martorell’s syndrome». It has been observed most frequently in young women

The Italian anatomist and pathologist Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771) reported the first case with signs and symptoms consistent with Takayasu arteritis in 1761.

The name Takayasu's disease was introduced by William Charles Caccamise Sr, in 1954. The condition was officially named Takayasu's arteritis in 1975.

We thank
Andrew Yee for correcting an error in our original entry.

Andre Trombeta, Joseph Constantin, and William Charles Caccamise Sr for information submitted.


  • G. B. Morgagni:
    De sedibus et causis morborum per anatomen indagatis libri quinque.
    2 volumes. Venice, 1761.
    (On the Seats and causes of Diseases Investigated by Anatomy).
  • M. Takayasu:
    A case with peculiar changes of the central retinal vessels.
    Acta Societatis ophthalmologicae Japonicae, Tokyo 1908, 12: 554.
  • A case of strange anastomosis of the central vessels of the retina.
    J Jap Ophthalmol, 1908, 12: 554.
  • F. Harbitz:
    Bilateral carotid arteritis.
    Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Chicago, 1926, 1: 499-530.
  • F. Martorell and J. Fabre Tersol:
    El sindrome de obliteración de los troncos supraaórticos.
    Medicina Clinica, Barcelona, 1944, 2: 26-30.
  • W. C. Caccamise, J. F. Whitman:
    Pulseless disease: a preliminary case report.
    American Heart Journal, 1952, 44: 629-633.
  • T. J. Danaraj, H. O. Wong, M. A. Thomas:
    Primary arteritis of aorta causing renal artery stenosis and hypertension.
    British Heart Journal, London, 1963, 25: 153-65.
  • K. Ishikawa:
    Natural history and classification of occlusive thromboarthropathy (Takayasu’s disease).
    Circulation, Dallas, 1978, 57: 27. Survival and morbidity and diagnosis of occlusive thromboarthropathy (Takayasu’s disease). American Journal of Cardiology, New York, 1981, 47: 1026.

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