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A Review of the Dermatological Complications of Giant Cell Arteritis

Authors Prieto-Peña D, Castañeda S, Atienza-Mateo B, Blanco R, González-Gay MA

Received 8 January 2021

Accepted for publication 11 March 2021

Published 25 March 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 303—312

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CCID.S284795

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Jeffrey Weinberg


Diana Prieto-Peña,1 Santos Castañeda,2,3 Belén Atienza-Mateo,1 Ricardo Blanco,1 Miguel Ángel González-Gay1,4,5

1Department of Rheumatology, Research Group on Genetic Epidemiology and Atherosclerosis in Systemic Diseases and in Metabolic Bone Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System, IDIVAL, Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla, Santander, Spain; 2Department of Rheumatology, H. Universitario de La Princesa, IIS-Princesa, Madrid, Spain; 3Cátedra UAM-ROCHE, EPID-Future, Universidad Autónoma Madrid (UAM), Madrid, Spain; 4School of Medicine, Universidad de Cantabria, Santander, Spain; 5Cardiovascular Pathophysiology and Genomics Research Unit, School of Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Correspondence: Miguel Ángel González-Gay
Department of Rheumatology, Research Group on Genetic Epidemiology and Atherosclerosis in Systemic Diseases and in Metabolic Bone Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System, IDIVAL, Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla, Avenida Valdecilla s/n, Santander, 39008, Spain
Email [email protected]

Abstract: Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is characterized by granulomatous inflammation of large and medium-sized vessels. It is the most common vasculitis among elderly people in Europe and North America. GCA usually presents with ischemic cranial manifestations such as headache, scalp tenderness, visual manifestations, and claudication of the tongue and jaw. Thickness and tenderness of temporal arteries are the most recognizable signs of GCA on physical examination. Laboratory tests usually show raised acute phase reactants. Skin manifestations are uncommon in GCA and are rarely found as a presenting symptom of GCA. Necrosis of the scalp and tongue is the most common ischemic cutaneous manifestation of GCA. Although infrequent, when present it reflects severe affection and poor prognosis of GCA. Panniculitis-like lesions have been reported in the setting of GCA, with nodules being the most common finding. Other entities, such as generalized granuloma annulare or basal cell carcinoma have been occasionally described in GCA patients. Prompt recognition and initiation of therapy are crucial to prevent serious complications of GCA. When high suspicion of GCA exists, immediate administration of glucocorticoids is recommended. It is advisable to refer the patient to a specialist GCA team for further multidisciplinary assessment.

Keywords: giant cell arteritis, cutaneous manifestations, skin, vasculitis

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