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JRSM Short Rep. 2012 Oct;3(10):73. doi: 10.1258/shorts.2012.012069. Epub 2012 Oct 22.

Temporal artery biopsy for giant cell arteritis: retrospective audit.

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1
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust , Coventry , UK ; Birmingham Midland Eye Centre , Birmingham , UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Temporal artery biopsy (TAB) is performed in suspected cases of sight-threatening giant cell arteritis (GCA). We aimed to determine the feasibility of TABĀ in patients who are suspected of having GCA.

DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS:

A retrospective audit of all patients undergoing TAB at a single teaching hospital between 2005 and 2011, identified from the histopathology database.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

(1) Clinical profile and biochemical criteria associated with positive histology. (2) Proportion of negative histology patients who were commenced on steroid therapy.

RESULTS:

One hundred and fifty-three TAB were performed (mean age 70.8 years, men:women = 3:2, 110 Caucasian: 43 Asian). Thirty-two biopsies were positive for GCA and 121 were negative. In total, 68 (61%) of 112 negative TAB patients were clinically diagnosed with GCA despite histological findings (P < 0.001). Nine out of 153 biopsies were non-arterial. Histologically positive TAB patients were of higher mean age (77.1 [95% CI 74.5-79.7] versus 69.1 [95% CI 66.7-71.6]; P < 0.001) and had a higher erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) (60 [95% CI 46.1-73.9] versus 39.8 [95% CI 34.2-45.3]; P < 0.01)] than those with negative histology.

CONCLUSIONS:

Raised ESR and higher age may be the most useful indicators of GCA. Many histologically negative individuals were nevertheless clinically diagnosed and managed as GCA.

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