Acute Brachial Radiculoplexopathy and Giant Cell Arteritis

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Abstract

Introduction:

Giant cell arteritis (GCA), a vasculitis involving large-sized and medium-sized vessels (which most commonly involves temporal arteries), is easily recognized in older patients presenting with headache, scalp tenderness, and raised inflammatory markers. Neurological complications (either central or peripheral) are classically described in GCA.

Case Report:

We report the case of an 85-year-old woman with bilateral acute brachial radiculoplexopathy, a rare neurological complication of GCA. She also presented right oculomotor palsy (with ptosis) and raised inflammatory markers, but she did not complain of the other classic cranial symptoms of the disease. We compare this case with 16 similar cases reported in the medical literature.

Conclusions:

In assessing a patient over 50 years of age with unexplained (unilateral or bilateral) brachial radiculoplexopathy (especially if C5-C6 nerve roots are affected) and elevated inflammatory markers, we would recommend specific enquiries with regard to the manifestations of GCA. The purpose is to reduce the risk of missing the wider spectrum of this condition and minimize the subsequent risk for disability of this treatable disease.

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