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Surv Ophthalmol. 2005 Sep-Oct;50(5):415-28.

Giant cell (temporal) arteritis: an overview and update.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Leicester, United Kingdom.


Giant cell arteritis is a systemic disease that continues to be a sight-threatening medical emergency requiring prompt recognition and treatment in order to avoid devastating ophthalmic consequences. Although there have been advances in the genetic and immunologic understanding of the underlying pathogenesis of the disease, the exact etiology of the condition, to date, remains unclear. Visual manifestations of giant cell arteritis are the common mode of presentation, making the ophthalmologist critically responsible for early diagnosis and treatment. Although temporal artery biopsy remains the only confirmatory procedure, newer laboratory investigations and blood flow studies with fundus fluorescein angiography have aided in the diagnosis of temporal giant cell arteritis. Maintenance of a high index of clinical suspicion is essential to institute prompt adequate treatment, especially in atypical cases. Corticosteroids remain the mainstay of treatment of giant cell arteritis. Recently, immunosuppressive agents as secondary steroid-sparing drugs have been used, particularly in some steroid-resistant cases. A wider recognition of the disease will minimize the prevalence of irreversible visual loss among patients with giant cell arteritis.

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