What is Temporal Arteritis?
Temporal arteritis, or giant cell arteritis, is an inflammation of the small and medium-sized arteries. Biopsy of the temporal artery may be recommended for proper diagnosis and treatment. Temporal arteritis, if left untreated, can be visually threatening.
What are the symptoms of temporal arteritis?
Signs and symptoms can include the following:
- Age of onset older than 50 years
- New-onset headache or localized head pain
- Temporal artery tenderness to palpation or reduced pulsation
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) greater than 50 mm/h
- Elevated C-reactive Protein (CRP)
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Who undergoes a temporal artery biopsy?
Patients are often referred to Dr. Amato by their ophthalmologist or primary physician for a biopsy when they suspect temporal arteritis. They may start the patient on medical treatment including oral steroids if their suspicion is high.
What is the procedure for temporal artery biopsy?
The procedure takes under an hour and is typically performed under light sedation with a local anesthetic. Dr. Amato uses minimally invasive techniques to ensure excellent cosmetic outcome by smaller incisions or hiding the scar in the hairline or a forehead wrinkle. The biopsy is usually performed in the upper scalp, close to the hairline. Once the biopsy of the artery is obtained, it is sent to the pathologist for evaluation. The wound is closed typically with dissolving stitches and ointment, and a bandage is applied over the scar.
After a temporal artery biopsy, patients need to rest and avoid heavy lifting or straining for a few days. Pain is minimal, usually relieved with ice packs and sometimes oral pain medication. Stitches in the forehead will dissolve, or permanent stitches or staples are usually removed 1-2 weeks after the procedure. The scar typically fades the year following surgery.
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If you are ready to take the next steps, or simply want more information about a procedure, please contact our team! Dr. Amato looks forward to speaking soon.
What if the biopsy is positive for temporal arteritis?
Dr. Amato will inform you of the results of the biopsy usually within a week of the procedure. If the biopsy is positive for temporal arteritis, your primary doctor typically will manage treatment with oral steroids. Your eye doctor may monitor your vision.
If you or your doctor suspects that you have temporal arteritis, immediate treatment is important to avoid the risks of vision loss and other complications. Call now for a consultation with Dr. Amato!