Inflammatory disease in older adults. Cranial arteritis

Geriatrics. 2004 Dec;59(12):25-9; quiz 30.


Cranial arteritis (CA), also called giant cell arteritis or temporal arteritis, is a vasculitis primarily affecting adults over age 50. It is a large vessel vasculitis, and giant cells classically can be identified on histopathologic examination of temporal arteries, but are not essential for diagnosis. Patients typically present with severe headaches, fatigue, polymyalgia-like symptoms, or ischemic complaints such as jaw claudication. Visual loss is the major feared irreversible outcome and can occur in up to 50% of those with untreated disease. Glucocorticoids, typically high dose prednisone (> or = 60 mg/d) is the first-line treatment and successfully controls the inflammatory disease in the vast majority of patients. Most patients can be tapered off steroids within 6 months to 2 years.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Giant Cell Arteritis* / complications
  • Giant Cell Arteritis* / diagnosis
  • Giant Cell Arteritis* / drug therapy
  • Giant Cell Arteritis* / etiology
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors


  • Glucocorticoids