Giant cell arteritis and its mimics: A comparison of three patient cohorts

Matthew J. Koster, Karthik Yeruva, Cynthia S. Crowson, Francesco Muratore, Cristian Labarca, Kenneth J. Warrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To compare temporal artery biopsy (TAB)-positive giant cell arteritis (GCA) to TAB-negative GCA and patients with GCA mimics Methods: Patients diagnosed with TAB-positive and TAB-negative GCA between 1/1/1998 and 12/31/2013 were: retrospectively identified. These two groups were compared to a cohort of patients with TAB performed between 1/1/2009 and 12/31/2010 in which the TAB was negative and alternative diagnosis was provided after a minimum of 6-months of follow-up. Baseline characteristics were compared between groups using chi-square and rank sum tests. Results: 591 study subjects were identified (286 TAB-positive, 110 TAB-negative GCA and 195 TAB-negative GCA mimics) during the respective study periods. Compared to TAB-negative GCA, GCA mimics had similar rates of headache and vision loss but significantly less frequent jaw/limb claudication, arterial bruits and constitutional symptoms, as well as lower platelet levels. Compared to TAB-positive GCA patients, TAB-negative GCA were younger, had shorter time to diagnosis, met fewer 1990 ACR classification criteria and had lower frequencies of polymyalgia rheumatica, jaw claudication and temporal artery abnormalities; but, higher frequency of arm claudication and constitutional symptoms. Among 61 TAB-negative patients with advanced arterial imaging, 43 (69%) had at least one abnormality consistent with GCA. Conclusion: Consideration of alternative diagnoses is requisite in evaluating patients with negative TAB. Advanced imaging assists in identifying occult large-vessel vasculitis and should be employed in all TAB-negative patients with suspicion for GCA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-929
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Biopsy
  • Giant cell
  • Large-vessel vasculitis
  • Temporal artery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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