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Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2008 Aug;265(8):993-8. doi: 10.1007/s00405-007-0556-x. Epub 2008 Jan 23.

Spontaneous bilateral necrosis of the tongue: a manifestation of giant cell arteritis?

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Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Technical University Munich, Ismaninger Str. 22, 81675 Munich, Germany.


Giant cell arteritis is a chronic vasculitis, which involves large- and medium-sized branches of the arteries originating from the aortic arch. This disease is a diagnostic challenge with a wide range of clinical symptoms and findings due to different affected vessels. Classic symptoms are temporally located headache, thickened temporal artery and jaw claudication. Furthermore, visual symptoms like diplopia or loss of vision can occur. The tongue has an excellent blood supply and ischemic ulceration due to giant cell vasculitis is usually unilateral and rarely described in literature. We present a patient with a spontaneous bilateral tongue necrosis and are convinced that this extraordinary case must be deemed to be a manifestation of giant cell arteritis, although it does not completly satisfy the usually used diagnostic criteria formulated by the American College of Rheumatology.

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