Giant Cell Arteritis: Test and Treatment

Last time I talked about what are some of the signs and symptoms of  giant cell/temporal arteritis. Remember vision loss, headaches, jaw pain, fevers, and unexplained weight loss can all be warning signs. So now that you have recognized these symptoms as a problem what is the next step?

Test For Giant Cell Arteritis

I tell patients if they start to notice these problems they should be calling their eye doctor immediately. The appointment is usually made that day if there is enough worry. We preform a complete exam including:

These are the test that we will often preform in the office. While no one test above gives the diagnosis of giant cell, they all help aid in making the decision for further workup. This can take a few hours to get through all these test so please be patient and know that this is all important to help preserve your vision.

Giant Cell/Temporal Arteritis Labs

If your workup is suspicous for giant cell/temporal arteritis then we will send you out for some labs. There are 3 main labs that will ordered. Sedmenation rate (sed rate), C Reactive protein (CRP), and a platelet count, are all used to help. These test show signs of inflammation in the body. While they can be very sensitive to inflammation they are not specific. What this means is that if they are normal for your age then there is almost no chance the problem is giant cell/temporal arteritis. If how ever the labs are high (one or more) then there is a chance this is giant cell/temporal arteritis but it also can be other causeses of inflammation. These are what we call highly sensitive but low specificty test.

If the office workup is suspcious for giant cell/temporal arteritis and the labs look elevated then it is time to start therapy imediatly and proceed with a slightly more invasive test for diagnosis. That is what we will discuss next time.

If this sounds like a problem you are having please call our office at 941-921-5335 for immediate assistance.


Jody Abrams, MD

Oculoplastics and Neuro-ophthalmology

Sarasota Retina Institute

Sarasota, Florida


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