Giant Cell Arteritis/Temporal Arteritis

Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is an inflammatory disease of blood vessels. It is therefore a form of vasculitis. The disorder may coexist in almost one fourth of cases with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), which is characterized by sudden onset of pain and stiffness in muscles (pelvis, shoulder) of the body and seen in the elderly. Other diseases related with temporal arteritis are systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and severe infections. Patient may present with severe headache, symptoms resembling TIA or stroke.ESR is usually elevated, at least 50 mm at the end of one hour, often > 100 mm/hr. Biopsy of the artery is diagnostic. After confirmation of the diagnosis, the disease rapidly responds to corticosteroid treatment. In case of severe symptoms, corticosteroid treatment may be indicated even before the biopsy, which preferably should be taken within a few days.


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