What is the prognosis of giant cell arteritis (GCA) (temporal arteritis)?

Updated: Sep 03, 2020
  • Author: Mythili Seetharaman, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Answer

With prompt, adequate therapy, full recovery is the rule. Symptoms from temporal arteritis improve within days of treatment. Corticosteroids can usually be tapered within the first 4-6 weeks and eventually discontinued. The reduced rate of neuro-ophthalmologic complications in recent years reflects improved recognition and treatment; blindness is now a rare complication.

Although the overall course of the disease is one of progressive improvement and eventual complete resolution, the clinical course is highly variable. The average duration of treatment is 2 years; however, some patients require treatment for 5 years or more. [18, 14] Morbidity from steroid therapy can be worse than that from the underlying disease, with the exception of blindness. Rarely, patients do not respond to steroid therapy or doses cannot be tapered. Cytotoxic or immunosuppressive drugs have been recommended in such cases, but more data are needed.


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