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Vol. 217, No. 4, 2003
Issue release date: July–August 2003
Section title: Review
Ophthalmologica 2003;217:239–259
(DOI:10.1159/000070631)

Management of Giant Cell Arteritis

Our 27-Year Clinical Study: New Light on Old Controversies

Hayreh S.S.a · Zimmerman B.b
aDepartment of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, College of Medicine, and bDepartment of Biostatistics, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA

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Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Review

Received: 1/3/2003
Accepted: 1/31/2003
Published online: 6/17/2003
Issue release date: July–August 2003

Number of Print Pages: 21
Number of Figures: 3
Number of Tables: 3

ISSN: 0030-3755 (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0267 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/OPH

Abstract

Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is the prime medical emergency in ophthalmology because of its dreaded complication of visual loss in one or both eyes, which is preventable if these patients are diagnosed early and treated immediately and aggressively with systemic corticosteroids. However, there is much controversy on diagnostic criteria and various aspects of steroid therapy to prevent visual loss. We discuss in detail the reasons for the controversy, clinical criteria to establish a definite early diagnosis of GCA, and its management. To provide new information on corticosteroid therapy in GCA, we also present our 27-year planned study on steroid therapy in GCA in 145 temporal artery biopsy-confirmed GCA patients (96 with and 49 without visual loss) seen and followed for 6 weeks or more in our clinic. The median follow-up time was 2.43 years, with interquartile range of 1–6 years (range 6 weeks to 20.2 years). Intravenous megadose steroid therapy was initially given to 33% followed by oral steroids, while the rest had only the oral therapy. The median starting oral prednisone dose was 80 mg/day, with 40% on ≧100 mg/day. We found that the most reliable and sensitive parameters to regulate and taper down steroid therapy were the levels of erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) and not systemic symptoms. All patients were maintained at the high-dose prednisone till both the ESR and CRP had stabilized at low levels (that usually took 2–3 weeks), after which very gradual tapering of prednisone was started, guided by the ESR and CRP levels only. The median time to reach the lowest maintenance dose of prednisone at which the ESR and CRP stayed low and stable was 48.7 months (95% CI: 34.6, 71.4 months), and the median lowest prednisone dose achieved was 7 mg/day (interquartile range of 1–16 mg/day). A comparison of patients with and without visual loss showed no significant difference in the time to attain the lowest dose (p = 0.359). Our study showed that no generalization is possible for tapering down of prednisone and there is no set formula because of the infinite variation between individuals. Only 10 (7 without visual loss, 3 with visual loss) of 145 patients were able to stop the therapy and maintain stable ESR and CRP levels. We found that only 4% of GCA patients with visual loss showed any visual improvement with high-dose steroid therapy, and 4% developed further visual loss during the first 5 days of high-dose steroid therapy but none after that. Our studies found no evidence that intravenous megadose steroid therapy was more effective than oral therapy in improving vision or preventing visual deterioration due to GCA.

© 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel


  

Author Contacts

Dr. S.S. Hayreh
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
University Hospitals and Clinics, 200 Hawkins Drive
Iowa City, IA 52242-1091 (USA)
Tel. +1 319 356 2947, Fax +1 319 353 7996, E-Mail sohan-hayreh@uiowa.edu

  

Article Information

Dr. S.S. Hayreh is a Research to Prevent Blindness Senior Scientific Investigator.

Supported in part by grants EY-1151 and RR-59 from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., and in part by unrestricted grant from Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc., New York.

Received: January 3, 2003
Accepted: January 31, 2003
Number of Print Pages : 21
Number of Figures : 3, Number of Tables : 3, Number of References : 117

  

Publication Details

Ophthalmologica (International Journal of Ophthalmology)
Founded 1899 as ‘Zeitschrift für Augenheilkunde’ by H. Kuhnt and J. von Michel

Vol. 217, No. 4, Year 2003 (Cover Date: July-August 2003)

Journal Editor: Ch. Ohrloff, Frankfurt a.M.
ISSN: 0030–3755 (print), 1423–0267 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/oph


Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Review

Received: 1/3/2003
Accepted: 1/31/2003
Published online: 6/17/2003
Issue release date: July–August 2003

Number of Print Pages: 21
Number of Figures: 3
Number of Tables: 3

ISSN: 0030-3755 (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0267 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/OPH


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Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
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