• What is GCA?

    GCA is an inflammation of the lining of your arteries. Most often, it affects the arteries in your head, especially those in your temples. For this reason, giant cell arteritis is sometimes called temporal arteritis or cranial arteritis.

    What is the manifestation of GCA?

    • Persistent, severe head pain and tenderness, usually in your temple area
    • Decreased visual acuity or double vision
    • Scalp tenderness (it may hurt to comb your hair)
    • Jaw pain when you chew
    • Fever
    • Unintended weight loss
    • Pain and stiffness in the neck, arms or hips are common symptoms of a related disorder, polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR).

    What tests are needed to diagnose GCA?

    • Elevation of ESR usually in excess of 50 mm/hour.
    • CRP can sometimes be elevated in the presence of a normal ESR.
    • Anemia and thrombocytosis are common.
    • Auto-antibody and complement levels are normal.
    • Alkaline phosphatase (liver test) may be elevated.
    • Temporal artery biopsy:
      • Is the gold standard
      • Biopsy should be taken on the symptomatic side.
    • Aortic aneurysms may develop many years after the patient no longer requires steroid therapy, follow-up chest X-rays and thoracic or abdominal ultrasound may be needed over time.

    What is the major complication of GCA?

    • Blindness.
    • Aortic aneurysm.
    • Stroke.

     

    What is the treatment of GCA?

    Treatment for GCA consists of high doses of a corticosteroid drug. You should start feeling better within just a few days, but you may need to continue taking medication for one to two years or longer. After the first month, your doctor may gradually begin to lower the dosage until you reach the lowest dose of corticosteroids needed to control inflammation as measured by ESR and CRP tests.

     

     

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