Temporal Arteritis is an inflammatory disorder of the temporal artery, which runs over the temple, beside the eye.
Also known as the giant cell arteritis or cranial arteritis, this is a rheumatic disease and a form of vasculitis that can affect large and medium-sized arteries throughout the body.
Vision loss is considered as the main problem of temporal arteritis. If left untreated, this condition can actually lead to permanent vision loss or a possible damage to other arteries in the body.
The disease usually affects those over 60 years of age. Women are approximately 4 times likely to suffer from this disease than men.
Signs and Symptoms
The first symptom of temporal arteritis is a visual difficulty in one of the eyes, soon followed by similar symptoms in the other eye, at least in 50% of the cases.
Other accompanying symptoms are:
· Tenderness of scalp
· Loss of appetite
· Muscle stiffness
· Difficulty in chewing
· Transient blurred vision
· Excruciating pain in the temple area
· Fatigue and depression
· Drooping lid
· Double vision
· Soreness in neck
Causes of Temporal Arteritis
Temporal arteritis is regarded as one of a group of diseases in which the linings of the large or medium sized blood vessels become inflamed. The elastic layer of these vessels is attacked by the “giant” cells and chemicals produced by the immune system. This reaction, in turn reduces blood flow though the blood vessels. This limited blood supply causes the symptoms of the disorder.
Research shows that the exact cause of temporal arteritis is yet to be ascertained. However, the giant cell arteritis or temporal arteritis is sometimes also related to other problems, most common amongst these being the polymylgia rhuematica, a condition that causes pain in the shoulders and hip joints.
The diagnosis of temporal arteritis is mostly done with a biopsy of the temporal artery. A highly safe procedure, it normally causes little pain and leaves a negligible scar.
Certain blood tests are also indicative of the condition of temporal arteritis. A majority of the patients with temporal arteritis have an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) that measures how fast a patient’s red blood cells settle when placed in a small tube. Research suggests that this rate is quite high in inflammatory conditions.
In most cases, biopsy within 14 days of initiation of treatment establishes the diagnosis, if positive. CRP or C reactive protein is another blood test used to diagnose temporal arteritis.
The treatment of temporal arteritis is aimed at minimizing the irreversible tissue damage that may occur because of the lack of blood flow.
Two main categories of medications are normally prescribed, including:
i) Corticosteroids, such as Prednisone. Aspirin may also be advised in addition
ii) Immunosuppressant, such as cyclophosphamide or methotrexate