Temporal arteritis

Temporal arteritis is a condition in which the temporal arteries, which supply blood to the head and brain, become inflamed or damaged. It is also known as cranial arteritis or giant cell arteritis. Although this condition usually occurs in the temporal arteries, it can occur in almost any medium to large artery in the body.

Symptoms of temporal arteritis

The symptoms of temporal arteritis can include:

Diagnosis for Temporal arthritis

Giant cell arteritis can be difficult to diagnose because its early symptoms resemble those of other common conditions. For this reason, your doctor will try to rule out other possible causes of your problem.

In addition to asking about your symptoms and medical history, your doctor is likely to perform a thorough physical exam, paying particular attention to your temporal arteries. Often, one or both of these arteries are tender, with a reduced pulse and a hard, cordlike feel and appearance.

Your doctor might also recommend certain tests.

Blood tests for Temporal arteritis

The following tests might be used to help diagnose your condition and to follow your progress during treatment.

  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate. Commonly referred to as the sed rate, this test measures how quickly red blood cells fall to the bottom of a tube of blood. Red cells that drop rapidly might indicate inflammation in your body.
  • C-reactive protein (CRP). This measures a substance your liver produces when inflammation is present.

Imaging tests for Temporal arteritis

These might be used to diagnose giant cell arteritis and to monitor your response to treatment. Tests might include:

  • Doppler ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to produce images of blood flowing through your blood vessels.

Biopsy The best way to confirm a diagnosis of giant cell arteritis is by taking a small sample (biopsy) of the temporal artery.

Treatment for Temporal arteritis

The main treatment for giant cell arteritis consists of high doses of a corticosteroid drug such as prednisone. Because immediate treatment is necessary to prevent vision loss, your doctor is likely to start medication even before confirming the diagnosis with a biopsy.