Diagnosis and management of giant cell arteritis: a review


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Abstract

Purpose of reviewThis article aims to provide a review of giant cell arteritis (GCA) clinical features, differential diagnosis, treatment options, and recent literature.Recent findingsGCA, first described by Horton et al., is a systemic immune-mediated vasculitis affecting medium-sized and large-sized arteries. Characteristic findings include headache, jaw claudication, visual loss, and constitutional symptoms (malaise, fever, weight loss, loss of appetite). Localized GCA symptoms are the end-result of vascular insufficiency and tissue ischemia. Temporal artery biopsy (TAB) remains the gold standard for diagnosis. Additional diagnostic tests include blood tests (erythrocyte sedimentation rate, ESR; C-reactive protein, CRP; platelets) and imaging modalities (ultrasound of the arteries; fluorescein angiography, FA; MRI; and positron emission tomography, PET). The mainstay of management includes high-dose corticosteroids, and additional cytotoxic drugs, antitumor necrosis factor monoclonal antibody, and antiplatelet aggregation therapy may be used. The goal of treatment is to prevent ischemic damage and halt progression of visual loss in the affected eye and prevent involvement of the fellow eye.SummaryFurther research is warranted concerning the immunogenetics of GCA. Further treatment trials are also needed to develop more specific and sensitive diagnostic tests and new corticosteroid-sparing treatment modalities.

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