Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences




Background/aim: Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is a large vessel vasculitis that may cause significant morbidity in the elderly population. We aimed to evaluate presentation characteristics, treatment, and outcome in a cohort of patients with GCA diagnosed and followed in a single center. Materials and methods: A retrospective chart review revealed 84 (41 M/43 F) registered patients diagnosed with GCA between 1990 and 2020. Clinical features at presentation and follow-up, radiographical imaging, temporal artery biopsy (TAB), and laboratory findings were retrieved from digital medical records or hard-copy patient files. Of these, 33 patients- follow-up period was less than 12 months; hence, relapses and treatment outcomes were examined in the remaining 51 (60.5%) patients. Results: A total of 84 patients were included in the cohort. The mean age at diagnosis was 68.4 ± 7.9 years (range: 49-85). At presentation, 60 (71.4%) patients had headache, 22 (26.2%) had symptoms compatible with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), and 23 (27.4%) had visual loss. Three (3.6%) patients had solid organ malignancies while two had hematologic malignancies (2.4%) before GCA diagnosis. TAB was obtained in 63 (75%) patients, in 47 of whom (74.6%) the pathological findings were consistent with GCA. A PET/ CT scan has been performed before glucocorticoids (GCs) initiation in 43 (51.2%) patients and of these, 37 (86.0%) revealed uptake consistent with large vessel involvement. The median follow-up time of the 51 patients was 3.7 (IQR: 1.8-6.8) years. GCs were started promptly after the diagnosis. During the follow-up period, 28 (54.9%) patients experienced a relapse. Thirty-nine (78%) patients were under GC treatment, with a mean dosage of 4.8 ± 2.8 g/day at the final visit. At the final visit, 20.3% (17:84) had died whereas 9.8% (5:51) had permanent vision loss. Conclusion: Treatment of GCA is challenging. GCA causes serious morbidities and increased mortality. PET/CT is highly effective in detecting large vessel vasculitis in GCA and could perhaps replace TAB in the future.

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