The American College of Rheumatology 1990 criteria for the classification of giant cell arteritis

Arthritis Rheum. 1990 Aug;33(8):1122-8. doi: 10.1002/art.1780330810.


Criteria for the classification of giant cell (temporal) arteritis were developed by comparing 214 patients who had this disease with 593 patients with other forms of vasculitis. For the traditional format classification, 5 criteria were selected: age greater than or equal to 50 years at disease onset, new onset of localized headache, temporal artery tenderness or decreased temporal artery pulse, elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (Westergren) greater than or equal to 50 mm/hour, and biopsy sample including an artery, showing necrotizing arteritis, characterized by a predominance of mononuclear cell infiltrates or a granulomatous process with multinucleated giant cells. The presence of 3 or more of these 5 criteria was associated with a sensitivity of 93.5% and a specificity of 91.2%. A classification tree was also constructed using 6 criteria. These criteria were the same as for the traditional format, except that elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate was excluded, and 2 other variables were included: scalp tenderness and claudication of the jaw or tongue or on deglutition. The classification tree was associated with a sensitivity of 95.3% and specificity of 90.7%.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Female
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / classification*
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rheumatology* / methods
  • Rheumatology* / trends
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Societies, Medical*
  • Vasculitis / diagnosis