Giant cell arteritis: an updated review

Acta Ophthalmol. 2009 Feb;87(1):13-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-3768.2008.01314.x. Epub 2008 Oct 7.


Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is the most common primary vasculitis of adults. The incidence of this disease is practically nil in the population under the age of 50 years, then rises dramatically with each passing decade. The median age of onset of the disease is about 75 years. As the ageing population expands, it is increasingly important for ophthalmologists to be familiar with GCA and its various manifestations, ophthalmic and non-ophthalmic. A heightened awareness of this condition can avoid delays in diagnosis and treatment. It is well known that prompt initiation of steroids remains the most effective means for preventing potentially devastating ischaemic complications. This review summarizes the current concepts regarding the immunopathogenetic pathways that lead to arteritis and the major phenotypic subtypes of GCA with emphasis on large vessel vasculitis, novel modalities for disease detection and investigative trials using alternative, non-steroid therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Giant Cell Arteritis*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors