[Giant cell arteritis. A study of 191 patients]

Med Clin (Barc). 1995 Dec 2;105(19):734-7.
[Article in Spanish]


Background: The aim of the present was to study the clinical features of a wide series of patients with giant cell arteritis (GCA) diagnosed with accurate criteria and to evaluate the sensitivity of the criteria proposed by the ACR for classification of GCA.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of 191 patients with GCA, 184 of whom were diagnosed by biopsy and 7 due to their clinical manifestations was carried out.

Results: The age was 73 +/- 7 years with the most frequent symptoms being headache (87%), abnormalities in the temporal arteries (75%), general malaise (60%), rheumatic polymyalgia (49%) and mandibular claudication (40%). The frequency of GCA was equal in both genders although the most complex syndrome was observed in women with a greater frequency of polymyalgia (p < 0.005), jaw claudication (p < 0.01) and anemia (p < 0.01). The patients with polymyalgia were characterized by a predominance of the polymyalgic syndrome in the initial phases and a higher frequency of amaurosis. Out of 47 patients with amaurosis, 23 remained with permanent unit or bilateral blindness. Unilateral biopsy of the temporal artery was diagnosed in 91% of the cases (CI 95%; 86 to 95%) increasing to 96.3% (CI 95%; 92 to 98%) on biopsy of both arteries. Ninety-eight percent of the patients (CI 95%; 95 to 99%) had 3 or more GCA criteria for classification as GCA.

Conclusions: The clinical manifestations of giant cell arteritis in Spain, with the exception of an equal frequency in both sexes, are similar to that described in other series of patients selected with strict criteria. The present data confirm the sensitivity of the criteria proposed by the ACR for the classification of giant cell arteritis although its application does not avoid the need for temporal artery biopsy for diagnosis. Unilateral biopsy is usually suffice in most of the cases.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Blindness / complications
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Giant Cell Arteritis* / classification
  • Giant Cell Arteritis* / complications
  • Giant Cell Arteritis* / drug therapy
  • Giant Cell Arteritis* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / complications
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Factors


  • Prednisone