Fast Track Clinic for Giant Cell Arteritis

The Fast Track Clinic for Giant Cell Arteritis at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) offers rapid evaluation for patients with suspected giant cell arteritis.

Giant cell arteritis (GCA), also known as temporal arteritis, is the most common of the diseases referred to under the general term of  “vasculitis”. Affecting only older adults, GCA often causes headache, fatigue, and evidence of inflammation,  along with a wide array of other symptoms. If inflammation spreads to the blood supply of the eyes, sudden blindness can occur, which is why the early diagnosis and GCA and its prompt treatment are crucial.

Our Giant Cell Arteritis Clinic Team

The Fast Track Clinic for Giant Cell Arteritis features a multidisciplinary team of specialists with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of giant cell arteritis. Our rheumatologists, vascular medicine specialists, vascular and endovascular surgeons, and pathologists work together in the evaluation and care of patients with giant cell arteritis.

Sara K. Tedeschi, MD

Sara K. Tedeschi, MD

Co-Director, Division of Rheumatology

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Piotr S. Sobieszczyk

Piotr S. Sobieszczyk, MD

Co-Director; Division of Vascular Medicine

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William Docken

William P. Docken, MD

Co-Director Emeritus; Division of Rheumatology

Rapid Evaluation for Suspected Giant Cell Arteritis

Because of the risk of permanent vision loss with giant cell arteritis, prompt diagnosis and treatment of the condition is essential. We provide patients with evaluation by a rheumatologist on our team and vascular ultrasound of the temporal, carotid, axillary, and subclavian arteries. Referrals are reviewed by a rheumatologist within one business day of referral and are triaged for acuity.

Patients are evaluated in our rheumatology clinic as quickly as possible, generally within 2 business days of the referral if the provided information is concerning for a new diagnosis of giant cell arteritis. Please note that for patients living outside of Massachusetts, the scheduling process may take longer. We also provide second opinions and offer transfer of care for patients with a prior diagnosis of giant cell arteritis.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer GCA telemedicine consultation services for patients in Massachusetts when appropriate. We are not able to offer telemedicine consultation for patients outside of Massachusetts.

BWH is among the few hospitals in the nation to use noninvasive vascular ultrasound in the diagnosis of giant cell arteritis. Since 2013, more than 1,000 of these specialized ultrasound examinations have been performed by the BWH Vascular Medicine group. Temporal artery biopsy and/or radiology tests such as PET-CT scan may also be part of the diagnostic evaluation.

Ultrasound Examination of the Temporal Artery

Ultrasound Examination of the Temporal Artery

Actual performance of an ultrasound examination of the temporal artery.

Noninvasive Vascular Ultrasound

Noninvasive Vascular Ultrasound

Ultrasound view, along the length of a branch of the temporal artery. The blood flowing in the artery is colored; the dark area on both sides (see arrows) is caused by swelling the wall of the artery, due to giant cell arteritis.

Giant Cell Arteritis Advanced Treatment and Follow-up

We provide immediate diagnosis, treatment, and if desired, close follow-up for patients diagnosed with giant cell arteritis. Our team also manages conditions that can coexist with giant cell arteritis, such as polymyalgia rheumatica.

Temporal Biopsy

Temporal Biopsy

Magnified view of a cross section through the temporal artery obtained from a biopsy. The artery is completely clogged with inflammation due to giant cell arteritis.

Ultrasound View of the Parietal Branch of the Temporal Artery

Ultrasound View of the Parietal Branch of the Temporal Artery

Ultrasound view of the parietal branch of the temporal artery, seen on cross-section. The dark area surrounding the blood vessel is called the “halo sign”, and indicates swelling of the wall of the vessel due to giant cell arteritis.

Multiple Locations

Our team sees patients at multiple locations throughout eastern Massachusetts, including:

Referral Information and Appointments

For appointments at the Fast Track Clinic for Giant Cell Arteritis, please call our dedicated line at (617) 732-9562 or email us at fasttrackgca@partners.org.

A rheumatologist reviews all referrals within one business day. If the provided information is concerning for a new diagnosis of giant cell arteritis, a rheumatologist on our team will evaluate the patient as quickly as possible, usually within 2 business days of referral. Please note that for patients living outside of Massachusetts, the scheduling process may take longer.

We also provide second opinions and offer transfer of care for patients with a prior diagnosis of giant cell arteritis. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer GCA telemedicine consultation services for patients in Massachusetts when appropriate. We are not able to offer telemedicine consultation for patients outside of Massachusetts.

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