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Giant Cell Arteritis : Introduction

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Introduction: Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is granulomatous inflammation of medium and large-sized arteries and is the one of the most common forms of vasculitis in older patients. GCA usually involves branches of carotid arteries in the head and neck (superficial temporal, cerebral and retinal arteries).

With the recognition that aorta and other large arteries are also often involved in these patients, it is now considered to be a systemic large vessel vasculitis. The previously-used terms temporal arteritis and cranial arteritis should be avoided because not all patients have temporal artery involvement, and other types of vasculitis can affect temporal arteries.

About the image: Temporal artery involved by giant cell arteritis. There is transmural inflammation, disruption of internal elastic lamina and considerable intimal hyperplasia causing near-total occlusion of the lumen.

Image courtesy of: Dr. Ibrahim Zardawi; used with permission.

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