Friday, November 18, 2005

Giant cell arteritis

Here’s a review on a must not miss diagnosis, giant cell arteritis (GCA). Of particular interest to me are the following points:

1) GCA can have unexpected late extra-cranial manifestations such as aortic aneurysm.
2) Steroids must be started as soon as the diagnosis is suspected and need not await temporal artery (TA) biopsy. Biopsy results are not affected by several days of steroid treatment. (This comes in handy if the patient presents with signs and symptoms of GCA late on a Friday afternoon).
3) Bilateral TA biopsy is sometimes necessary.
4) Combining the erythrocyte sedimentation rate with the C-reactive protein is superior to either test alone. In a population of patients undergoing TA biopsy, combined abnormal results of both tests was associated with a specificity of 97%. *

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