Temporal Arteritis

There is a disease called giant cell arteritis or temporal arteritis. It is a condition which causes inflammation of blood vessels. Sometimes, inflammation can affect the blood vessels supplying the eye. If this happens permanent vision loss can occur. Common symptoms associated with giant cell arteritis or temporal arteritis may include headache, scalp tenderness, discomfort when chewing, eye pain or vision loss. There are blood tests that can suggest giant cell arteritis, but the diagnosis typically requires examination of an artery under the microscope.

The temporal artery is located in the temple area close to the hairline. The temporal artery is located by feel or using an ultrasound instrument to hear the vessel’s pulse. Occasionally, a small area of hair needs to be shaved at the temple. Through an incision along at the temple, a segment of the temporal artery is removed. Sutures are then used to close the skin incision. The biopsy is then sent to a pathologist for examination to determine whether the artery shows signs of inflammation.

A temporal artery biopsy requires an incision in the skin, which will leave a faint scar. This scar is typically near the hairline and generally heals well. If the location of your temporal artery requires shaving of hair, this usually grows back in time. It is common to have bruising and swelling after a temporal artery biopsy.
Temporal artery biopsy procedures are usually done with local anesthesia (injections around the area of the temple area). Depending on the patient, sedation or general anesthesia may be offered.
You may decide to do nothing and choose to be treated with steroids for giant cell arteritis or temporal arteritis even though your provider can not be sure this is the cause of your symptoms. The risks of steroids include increased blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, heartburn, weight gain, loss of bone density, stroke and even death.