Giant cell arteritis (GCA) also is called temporal
arteritis, cranial arteritis, and granulomatous arteritis.
GCA is a systemic inflammatory vasculitis of unknown
etiology that affects medium- and large-sized arteries.
It is a disease of elderly persons and can result
in a wide variety of systemic, neurologic, and ophthalmologic
complications. Visual loss is one of the most significant
causes of morbidity in GCA. Permanent visual impairment
may occur in as many as 60% of patients. Newly recognized
GCA should be considered a true neuro-ophthalmic emergency.
Prompt treatment with steroids can prevent blindness
and other vascular sequelae of GCA. Relationship with
polymyalgia rheumatica A close relationship exists
between GCA and polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). Despite
numerous reports associating these 2 disease entities,
the precise nature for this association is poorly
understood and currently unknown. However, it is evident
that both conditions affect similar patient populations
and frequently affect the same individual. Several
authors have suggested that these 2 diseases are actually
different stages of a single disease spectrum.