What is the prognosis of untreated 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

The prognosis for patients with untreated GCA is extremely poor. These patients may suffer blindness, or death from myocardial infarction, stroke, or dissecting aortic aneurysm.  Ophthalmic complications are common and include visual disturbances, amaurosis fugax, diplopia, and blindness from involvement of the ophthalmic artery. Visual loss in GCA is often irreversible, but may be temporary; may be partial or complete; and may involve one or both eyes. Blindness usually occurs abruptly and painlessly. Ischemic optic neuropathy with eventual optic atrophy is the most common cause of visual loss and occurs in 15% of patients.


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