What is giant cell arteritis (GCA)?

Updated: Sep 07, 2018
  • Author: Guruswami Giri, MD, FRCS; Chief Editor: Kyung J Cho, MD, FACR, FSIR  more...
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Giant cell arteritis is a systemic obliterative vasculitis mainly involving the arteries that originate from the arch of the aorta. However, any vessel in the body can be affected. The inflammation is a necrotizing obliterative vasculitis of large and medium-sized vessels. [1]  The superficial temporal, vertebral, ophthalmic, and posterior ciliary arteries are more commonly affected than the internal and external carotid arteries. Intracranial arteries other than those involving the orbits are less commonly affected. Cases involving the proximal distal aorta and the subclavian and abdominal arteries have been reported. The inflammation is segmental, and therefore, skip lesions are seen. [2]  

Giant cell arteritis is a disease of elderly persons, the incidence of which increases with increasing age. The mean age of onset is 70 years.

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