Giant Cell Arteritis Symptoms and Diagnosis
Symptoms of giant cell arteritis
Giant cell arteritis symptoms can include:
- Headache, especially around the temples
- Pain in the shoulders and hips (polymyalgia rheumatica)
- Jaw pain after chewing
- Blurred vision or vision loss
In some cases, symptoms may also include:
- Scalp tenderness
- Jaw or facial pain
- Pain in the throat or tongue
- Weight loss
- Pain in the arms during exercise
If left untreated, giant cell arteritis can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications like permanent blindness and stroke.
Diagnosing giant cell arteritis
Giant cell arteritis can be a challenge to diagnose. Its symptoms can be similar to those of other health problems.
To diagnose giant cell arteritis, your UPMC vascular surgeon will:
- Discuss your medical history.
- Ask about your symptoms.
- Give you a physical exam.
He or she may also use the following tests to confirm a giant cell arteritis diagnosis:
- An imaging test, like a Duplex ultrasound, can show if your blood vessels are narrow.
- A blood test that measures your erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), also known as your SED rate. During a SED test, your blood is drawn and placed in a small tube to measure how fast your red blood cells fall to the bottom. If your red blood cells fall quickly, this may indicate inflammation in your blood vessels.
- A biopsy of your temporal artery is the definite test to check for inflammation.