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Giant Cell Arteritis and Thyroid

Last week's Trust me I'm a doctor had a section on Giant Cell Arteritis particularly focussing on the possibility of blindness resulting from it not being diagnosed.

The main early symptoms of Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA) are headache and tenderness over the sides of the forehead. The headache of GCA is a 'new onset headache''; in other words a severe headache that a person hasn't experienced before. People with GCA need urgent treatment with steroids, which will usually prevent serious complications such as eye problems and blindness.

Known as 'giant cell' because abnormal large cells develop in the wall of the inflamed arteries.

Commonly affects arteries around the head and neck.

Most commonly affects the arteries to the sides of the forehead (temples), therefore sometimes called 'temporal arteritis'.

GCA is uncommon, mainly affecting people over the age of 60 (very rare in people under 50).

Women are more commonly affected than men.

The cause is not known.

There are about 46 papers which mention GCA and thyroid - not all will be of any relevance, but a few are.

Specifically, and not (so far as I noticed) mentioned on Trust me, is that it is possible to have GCA of the thyroid - though exceedingly rare.

Mod Rheumatol. 2013 Nov;23(6):1242-4. doi: 10.1007/s10165-012-0743-5. Epub 2012 Sep 8.

Giant cell arteritis of the thyroid in a 69-year-old male.

Glassy CM1, Guggenheim C.

Author information

1Department of Family Medicine, University of California, Irvine, 101 The City Blvd South, Bldg 200 Suite 835, Orange, CA, 92868, USA,


We report the case of a 69-year-old Caucasian male with a histological confirmed diagnosis of giant cell arteritis (GCA) of the thyroid. To our knowledge this is the second reported case of GCA of the thyroid with a histological confirmed diagnosis. Unique to this case is that our patient did not have the simultaneous occurrence of a positive temporal artery biopsy or classic symptoms of temporal arteritis. The patient presented with fever of unknown origin, and fatigue. Laboratory reports included a sedimentation rate of >100 mm/h and C-reactive protein level of 17.1 mg/dL. Goiter with irregular calcifications was found on the computed tomography image. Temporal artery biopsy was negative. The patient continued to have intermittent fever after discharge and was readmitted to the hospital 41 days after discharge for fever and increasing fatigue. The thyroid was resected to rule out neoplasia. Granulomatous GCA was identified within the thyroid specimen.

PMID: 22961124

DOI: 10.1007/s10165-012-0743-5

1 Reply

isn't it connected with pernicious anaemia?


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