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BMJ Case Rep. 2008;2008:bcr0720080444. doi: 10.1136/bcr.07.2008.0444. Epub 2008 Nov 20.

Cluster headache or giant cell arteritis?

Author information

  • 1Dudley Group of Hospitals, Rheumatology, Russel's Hall Hospital, Dudley, DY1 2HQ, UK. baskar@doctors.org.uk


We describe an elderly female patient with known polymyositis who presented with new onset temporal headache that was diagnosed as giant cell arteritis but subsequently had a typical clinical course of cluster headache. This case illustrates the potential for diagnostic confusion between giant cell arteritis (GCA) and cluster headache (CH) and the need to consider CH as a potential differential diagnosis in those newly presenting with headaches, even in the elderly, and relapsing headaches in subjects with a diagnosis of GCA. Importantly, this needs to include female patients, a group historically thought to be much less likely to develop CH.

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