Temporal artery biopsy

Specimen:

Segment of temporal artery removed by open surgical biopsy.

Method:

A shorter segment (2 cm) of artery is sufficient if the artery is clearly normal by inspection and palpation, otherwise a longer segment is required.

Fresh tissue: frozen section, microscopy.

Fixed tissue: usually processed urgently and multiple serial sections are examined. 

Laboratory staff should be consulted prior to submission of the biopsy.  

A clinical history, including current and past steroid therapy, is essential.

Application:

Diagnosis of giant cell (temporal) arteritis. 

Therapy should not be delayed pending the biopsy result.

Interpretation:

Report by pathologist of features diagnostic of temporal arteritis. 

It should be noted that changes may be segmental and that a negative biopsy does not exclude the diagnosis. 

In 15-20% of cases the diagnosis is confirmed following biopsy of the contralateral temporal artery.

Reference:

Rosai J. Rosai and Ackerman's Surgical Pathology. 10th Ed. 2011. Elsevier.