Giant Cell (Temporal) Arteritis
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Giant Cell Arteritis (also known as Temporal Arteritis) is a large vessel vasculitis that characteristically involves the temporal artery; it is also commonly associated with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). Giant cell arteritis most often affects blood vessels of the head and neck, which explains many of its signs and symptoms. Perhaps most obviously, giant cell arteritis presents as unilateral headache with temporal artery tenderness. Additionally, jaw claudication (otherwise known as pain with chewing) is another common feature. Opthalmic artery involvement can lead to the dire complication of blindness, so patients with giant cell arteritis should be treated promptly with high dose corticosteroids. Gold standard diagnosis is based on biopsy, which reveals focal granulomatous inflammation with giant cells. Since the inflammation is focal, short biopsies may miss the inflammation and consequently miss the diganosis; therefore, longer biopsies may be needed. It is also worth mentioning that patients with suspected giant cell arteritis should be treated before biopsy, given the possible complication of blindness.