• Wednesday April 8,2020

Cranial arteritis

Cranial arteritis is an age-related inflammatory disease of the blood vessels, which often affects the major and middle arteries of the head. Arteritis cranialis has an untreated massive impact on vision.

What is craniofacial arteritis?

Cranial arteritis is also referred to as autoimmune disease, which is of genetic origin. Activation of the phagocytes causes inflammatory tissue damage, causing the affected arteries to swell and become less well supplied with blood.
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Cranial arteritis is an inflammation of the arterial walls. Women are significantly more likely to be affected than men, people of Scandinavian origin more often than other populations.

The age of onset increases significantly from the age of 50 years. In most cases, the arteries of the head, especially those of the temples are affected, which is why sometimes the name arteritis temporalis is used. Other terms of cranial arteritis are Horton's disease, temporal arteritis, giant cell arteritis or Horton-Magath-Brown syndrome.

Timely treatment of cranial arteritis is crucial to prevent permanent tissue damage and vision loss.


The causes of Cranial Arteritis can not yet be clearly established. Recent research in molecular biology has shown that T cells (helper cells) recognize antigens in the blood vessel wall and send a signal to macrophages (phagocytes) to destroy these putative pathogens.

Cranial arteritis is therefore also referred to as autoimmune disease, which is of genetic origin. Activation of the phagocytes causes inflammatory tissue damage, causing the affected arteries to swell and become less well supplied with blood.

At-risk patients for cranial arteritis include people with polymyalgia rheumatica, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and severe infections.

Symptoms, complaints & signs

In most cases, the discomfort and symptoms of craniothelial arteritis are relatively clear, indicating that they are directly related to the disease and thus allowing early treatment. The sufferers suffer primarily from very severe pain in the area of ​​the head. These headaches are stinging and can also spread to neighboring regions.

Especially in the ears or the eyes it comes to severe pain. Furthermore, those affected by arteritis cranialis also suffer from severe visual disturbances and in serious cases from blindness. The quality of life of the person affected is significantly reduced and reduced by the disease.

Also, a weight loss may occur and occur with fever or with a general fatigue and fatigue. Often the cranial arteritis also leads to severe pain in the muscles and thus to restrictions in the movement and in the everyday life of the person concerned. Most patients also suffer from double vision or severe tenderness in the temples.

The patient's immune system is also weakened by cranial arteritis, making it more susceptible to various diseases. Mental complaints can also occur because of the symptoms.

Diagnosis & History

The symptoms of Cranial Arteritis can vary widely. Sometimes the onset of the disease is characterized by muscle stiffness and pain (myalgia) in the shoulders and hips, fever and fatigue, as with a flu.

However, the most common symptoms of cranial arteritis are often severe headache and sensitivity - mostly in both temples. Pain when chewing in the jaw and tongue are also symptomatic. In addition, there is sensitivity to the hair and scalp as well as the characteristic loss of vision or the appearance of double vision.

If left untreated, craniofacial arteritis can lead to complications such as permanent blindness, an aneurysm or, in some cases, a stroke.

An arterial cranial nerve is difficult to diagnose, which is why other diseases must first be excluded. A diagnosis is made on the basis of a comprehensive medical history and laboratory tests. These check liver function, erythrocyte sedimentation rates and the levels of certain inflammatory markers.

Standard for the diagnosis of cranial arteritis is a biopsy, to complement other imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance angiography, ultrasound or positron emission tomography can be used.


Due to the arteritis cranialis there are considerable limitations of vision. In the worst case scenario, the patient may lose sight of everything and then go blind. Women are more often affected by cranial arteritis than men, and consequently suffer more often from the complications of the disease.

Mostly there is a sharp pain in the head, which occurs with blurred vision or complete blindness. The sufferer also suffers from fever and tiredness and a general malaise. The muscles and extremities also hurt, thereby reducing the quality of life enormously.

Before blindness occurs a veiling vision and seeing double images. Not infrequently, the patients suffer a stroke, which in the worst case can also lead to death. The treatment takes place with the help of medication. In most cases, symptoms will improve after a few days, but the entire treatment may take several years.

Most of the time the eye complaints and hypertension are also treated. In many cases, the therapy causes weight gain and a weakening of the immune system. As a result, the patient is more likely to suffer from influenza and other infections.

When should you go to the doctor?

A cranial arteritis must always be treated by a doctor. If left untreated, the disease can negatively affect the patient's vision, leading to complete blindness in the worst case scenario. For this reason, urgent treatment by a doctor is necessary. Usually, a doctor should be consulted if sudden vision problems associated with severe headache occur.

Likewise, thick arteries on the temples may be a sign of craniofacial arteritis and should be examined by a physician. Furthermore, a doctor is to be consulted even if it comes to fever or fatigue and tiredness of the patient. Not infrequently, cranial arteritis also causes pain in the muscles or significant weight loss.

Without treatment, it can also lead to a stroke that can be fatal for the person affected. As a rule, the cranial arteritis can be diagnosed by a general practitioner. The further treatment takes place with the help of medication and the complaints are likely to be relatively well limited.

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Treatment & Therapy

If craniofacial arteritis can be diagnosed and therefore treated early, the prognosis is usually very good. Cranial arteritis is treated with high doses (1 mg / kg / day) of corticosteroid medications such as prednisone.

Since immediate treatment is sought, drug treatment may begin before confirmation of the diagnosis. However, even after a few days an improvement may occur, a longer intake of the drugs for one to two years or longer is required. After the first few weeks, the dose can be gradually reduced until only a low dose of corticosteroids is needed to control the inflammation.

Some of the symptoms may return briefly during treatment. Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs. Therefore, long-term use can cause serious side effects, especially at high dosages. These include osteoporosis, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, glaucoma or cataracts.

Other potential side effects of corticosteroid therapy for cranial arteritis include weight gain, increased blood sugar, and a weakened immune system. For the treatment of side effects, calcium and vitamin D supplements or other medicines are used.

Outlook & Forecast

Craniofacial craniosis has a good prognosis with early diagnosis and rapid start of treatment. With a drug treatment there is the possibility of alleviating the symptoms. For a good and stable healing picture, treatment must take several years. Already after a few days or weeks, however, a significant improvement is already noticeable.

If the remedy is discontinued on its own and too early, the disease relapses and the symptoms recur. Without medical care, the impairments continue to increase in size and new symptoms appear. The progressive course of the disease can lead to blindness of the patient in unfavorable circumstances. In addition, the occurrence of a stroke is possible in individual cases. This usually leads to lifelong impairments, paralysis and dysfunction. In addition, he may have a fatal course of late treatment or intensive care.

The difficulty with a cranial arteritis is the diagnosis. The disease is easily confused with other diseases because of its symptoms. As a result, a doctor's consultation is delayed or the doctor initially misdiagnosed. The delay in the onset of the disease triggers a continuous deterioration of vision. As soon as a correction is made and the treatment begins, the symptoms gradually regress.


A prevention of cranial arteritis is not possible. However, it is a big challenge to cope with the side effects of the drugs. A healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish, as well as a restriction of salt, sugar and alcohol is the best way to tackle potential problems. A regular exercise for at least 30 minutes daily strengthens the immune system and well-being in order to get along well with the treatment of cranial arteritis.


The options for follow-up are usually relatively difficult for cranial arteritis. Patients in most cases depend on a medical condition for this disease. In the treatment of the disease, the patient must usually take medicines. It should always be paid to a regular intake of the drugs, and interactions with other drugs must be observed.

In most cases, patients are dependent on lengthy treatment. Since the treatment of cranial arterial hypertension can also lead to serious side effects, the person concerned should be examined regularly. Even a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet has a very positive effect on the further course of arteritis cranialis.

In this case, a weight gain should be avoided in any case. The care provided by friends and relatives can have a very positive effect on the course of the disease and avoid further complaints. Contact with other affected persons of the cranial arteries may lead to an exchange of information, which may also have a positive effect on the further course of the disease.

You can do that yourself

Giant cell arteritis is a very serious rheumatic vascular disease that must be treated by a doctor. Patients should be sure to consistently perform medically prescribed cortisone treatment, even if they have unwanted side effects. The latter can also relieve patients through self-help measures.

Since the administration of cortisone increases the risk of osteoporosis, calcium should be taken at the same time and sufficient sunlight should be taken or vitamin D substituted. Potential vascular occlusion can be prevented by taking acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), which is found in many over-the-counter painkillers. Since ASA attacks the gastric mucosa, it should be protected by a proton inhibitor.

Supportive naturopathic methods can be used. A classic in the treatment of rheumatic complaints is birch, which is used as juice or tea. A brew of birch leaves can also be applied directly to aching body parts. Nettle should also have a positive effect on the inflammatory processes in the body. Willow bark is a natural source of ASA and is drunk as a tea, but it tastes very idiosyncratic. Meanwhile, there are also tablets based on willow cattle available.

Frequently, movement of the jaw may exacerbate the severe headache that is almost always associated with giant cell arteritis. In acute seizures, sufferers should therefore only eat soft or liquid food and do not chew heavily.

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