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Can temporal arteritis be diagnosing without a biopsy

Hi All,

I would like to start by thanking everyone's contribution on this community. I was google searching about TA as I want to understand my mothers condition more and I am glad to get some very good advice here.

My mother is on steroid because of temporal arterities. However, from looking at what is being said here it seems a bit strange that she was never asked to have a biopsy to confirm the condition. They did blood tests and after getting the results she was put on very high dosage for a couple of weeks. This has been reduced since and she is on 15mg now but she was never asked to do a biopsy to confirm the condition. Is this common?

Thank you!

4 Replies

Hi, I was put on high dose steroids after blood tests by GP for TA and the fact that my symptoms reduced after around day 3 confirmed to my GP and by then Rheumatologist that it was TA. That was four years ago. But now the next time I have a Flare my rheumy wants me to go into emergency ward in hospital and then have a biopsy ( which he already suspects will be inconclusive after so long on steroids.

You don't say your mothers age as this is also important but not compulsory for diagnosis. Also I hope your mother is feeling better and the reduction of steroids is working for her.

Hope this helps,

Best wishes


Hi. Yes a diagnosis can be made without a biopsy test. Your mother's condition would be diagnosed by her symptoms. Often, these tests come back negative anyway. I have PMR which is closely linked to TA, but my tests have always been negative.

I hope your mother is feeling much better now and her sight is still OK.



Yes, I was diagnosed with temporal arteritis without biopsy and started on 40mgs of steroids. I guess I was a fairly straightforward case though showing all the known symptom (severe head pain, jaw pain on chewing, blurry vision, weight loss, vomiting, high blood test markers), plus those of Polymyalgia. The almost immediate resolution of the worst symptoms within hours of taking the first steroid dose confirmed the diagnosis.

I do hope your Mother is feeling much better - wonderful for her to have such a caring daughter.


Dear Concerned Daughter. Thanks for being concerned! Yes, GCA can be diagnosed without a biopsy if enough of the key symptoms are present. Many rheumatologists prefer to have a biopsy done to be on the safe side because it's a serious business putting people onto steroids. However, many of the biopsies come back negative, even though the doctors are convinced that the person has GCA. Why? Because they are hunting for the Giant Cell, and very often the bit of artery that they take doesn't have a giant cell in it. So then people are having an invasive procedure for more or less nothing.

Please email us your postal address and we will send you our information pack on GCA.


Kate, Chair, PMRGCAuk


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