Temporal Artery Biopsy
As a means to test or diagnose giant cell (temporal) arteritis, temporal artery biopsy is a straightforward procedure usually performed by a general practitioner. To better understand, consider the four carotid arteries. There are two on each side of the neck: right and left internal carotid arteries and right and left external carotid arteries. Temporal arteritis targets medium to large arteries, specifically the temporal arteries around the temples that branch off of the carotid arteries in the neck. While the causes remain unknown, temporal arteritis may follow another condition called polymyalgia rheumatic, which is an inflammatory disorder. It also is reported more often in individuals over the age of 50, and more prevalent in those of northern European descent. Even so, temporal arteritis is a serious condition resulting in inflammation, swelling and damage to the blood vessels responsible for providing oxygen-rich blood to the head, neck and upper body.
Symptoms of giant cell (temporal) arteritis may include:
- Throbbing on one side of the head or the back of the head
- Scalp that is tender to touch
- Jaw pain
- Throat pain
- Hearing loss
- Muscle aches or pain in the arm after using it
- Soreness and stiffness in the neck, upper arms, shoulders and hips
- Reduced vision, blurred vision, double vision or even blindness
While physicians may administer tests such as blood and liver function tests or ESR (sedimentation rate and c-reactive protein) testing, an ultrasound or MRI may also be suggested. Even so, a biopsy from the artery of concern must be taken to make a definite diagnosis.
Treatment Options for Giant Cell Temporal Arteritis
Because the carotid arteries provide critical blood supply to the head, neck and upper body, prompt treatment for temporal arteritis is necessary to avoid blindness and stroke.
Initial treatment for temporal arteritis will likely involve corticosteroids (Prednisone) or aspirin. Yet, because Prednisone may need to be taken for an extended amount of time, individuals must adhere to special instructions to protect their bone health, due to the impact of corticosteroids on bone density.
Long term treatment may also require certain lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol intake, taking extra calcium or vitamin D, increasing physical activity, or taking a bisphosphonate medication or immunosuppressant. Follow up medical attention is also needed, as individuals may be at a greater risk for developing aneurysms.
As a distinguished vascular and endovascular surgeon in New York City, Dr. Alan I. Benvenisty is a specialist in the diagnosis of vascular conditions and favors non-conventional treatment modalities whenever possible. With comprehensive understanding of vascular pathology, Dr. Benvenisty is able to provide individualized care and treatment for carotid arterial conditions. Patients trust the care and instruction they receive from Dr. Benvenisty.
To speak with Dr. Benvenisty personally regarding your condition, contact our New York City office on Amsterdam Avenue today.