Temporal arteritis is a condition in which the temporal arteries supplying blood to the head and brain become inflamed or damaged. Temporal arteritis is also known as cranial arteritis or giant cell arteritis. Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is a segmental systemic granulomatous arteritis affecting medium and large arteries in individuals >50 yr. The inflammation primarily targets branches of the extracranial head and neck blood vessels (external carotids, temporal arteries, ciliary and ophthalmic arteries). The aorta and subclavian and brachial arteries can also be affected. Intracranial arteritis is rare (Ferri, 2018).
There are approximately 20 new cases of temporal arteritis for every 100,000 people over 50 years of age. Incidence increases with age with the highest rate being among those 70-79 years old, is more common in women than in men by 3:1 and is more often seen in Caucasians than any other race (Petri, Nevitt, Sarsour, Napalkov, and Collinson, 2015). There are no estimates of the prevalence of GCA in the United States population in the current millennium. Most cases are paired with a diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatic (PMR).