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January 28, 1961

Palpation of Arteries in Temporal ArteritisReemphasis of the Value of Careful Palpation

Author Affiliations


From the Neurology Service, Massachusetts General Hospital.

JAMA. 1961;175(4):325. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.63040040018016a

IN TEMPORAL ARTERITIS, when the inflamed arteries are painful, tender, enlarged, nodular, and pulseless, cursory examination of the vessels will reveal the diagnosis. It has been my personal experience, however, that in many cases none of these classic descriptive terms apply; for example, headache may be minimal or absent, the vessels instead of being swollen no larger in diameter than normal, and the pulses retained. In such cases, reliance usually is placed on arterial biopsy in making the correct diagnosis which, unfortunately, is often established only after permanent unilateral or bilateral blindness has occurred.

It is the purpose of this brief note to reemphasize the great value of careful palpation of the superficial temporal artery and its branches in detecting the presence of temporal arteritis in patients whose arteries are not frankly involved.1 When the vessels are the seat of arteritis, the arterial wall is increased several times in

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