Dental update

Giant cell arteritis affecting the tongue: a case report and review of the literature.

PMID 24279219


Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is a systemic vasculitis with symptoms that could cause a patient to present to a general dental practitioner. A case of GCA that presented as headache, jaw claudication, unilateral visual loss and tongue ulceration leading to necrosis is reported and the literature reviewed, with an emphasis on dentally relevant aspects. It is vital that GCA is not overlooked in patients over the age of 50 with unexplained dental pain, tissue necrosis or jaw pain which may be misdiagnosed as a temporomandibular joint disorder. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment is the key to preventing visual loss. Early referral in such cases would be warranted. Dental clinicians may play a part in the early diagnosis of GCA by having a high index of suspicion for its symptoms in patients, so that devastating ischaemic consequences, such as irreversible visual loss, can be prevented.