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Temporal arteritis

  • Definition

    Temporal arteritis is inflammation and damage to blood vessels that supply the head area, particularly the large or medium arteries that branch from the neck and supply the temporal area.

    If the inflammation affects the arteries in your neck, upper body and arms, it is called giant cell arteritis.

    Alternative Names

    Arteritis - temporal; Cranial arteritis; Giant cell arteritis

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Temporal, giant cell, and cranial arteritis occur when one or more arteries become inflammed, swollen, and tender.

    Temporal arteritis most commonly occurs in the head, especially in the temporal arteries that branch off from a blood vessel in the neck called the carotid artery. However, the condition can affect almost any medium-to-large artery anywhere in the body.

    The cause is unknown, but is believed to be partly due to a faulty immune response. The disorder has been associated with severe infections and the use of high doses of antibiotics.

    The disorder may develop along with or after polymyalgia rheumatica. Giant cell arteritis is almost always seen in people over age 50, but it may sometimes occur in younger people. It is rare in people of African descent. There is some evidence that it runs in families.