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.
If the inflammation affects the arteries in your neck, upper body and arms, it is called giant cell arteritis.
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Temporal, giant cell, and cranial arteritis occur when one or more arteries become inflammed and die.
It 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 be a body-wide (systemic) disorder, affecting many medium-to-large sized arteries 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 high doses of antibiotics.
The disorder may develop along with or after polymyalgia rheumatica. Giant cell arteritis is seen almost exclusively in those over 50 years old, but may occasionally occur in younger people. It is rare in people of African descent. There is some evidence that it runs in families.
Pictures & ImagesCarotid artery anatomy
There are four carotid arteries, two on each side of the neck: right and left internal carotid arteries, and right and left external carotid arteries. The carotid arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the head and brain.
Review Date : 1/16/2009
Reviewed By : Joseph P. Hart, M.D., Assistant Professor of Surgery, Medical University of Southern Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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