Third cranial nerve palsy (ptosis, diplopia) accompanied by orbital swelling: case report of unusual clinical presentation of giant cell arteritis associated with polymyalgia rheumatica

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Prassede Bravi *
Patricia Tolaini
(*) Corresponding Author:
Prassede Bravi |


Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is the most common systemic vasculitis in older individuals, characterized by granulomatosus inflammation of the wall of large and medium-sized arteries. The wide spectrum of arterial sites involved leads to ischemia of different organs resulting in a wide range of clinical signs and symptoms. Temporal artery is commonly involved (temporal arteritis). Unusual patterns of presentation, such as extraocular motility disorders and orbital swelling, may be early and transient manifestations of GCA and precede the permanent visual loss due to ischemic optic neuropathy.

Case report
We describe a patient with uncommon manifestations of GCA consisting of transient recurrent diplopia, ptosis, orbital swelling together with more typical clinical features of the disease such as musculoskeletal manifestations (polymyalgia rheumatica) and facial pain: all signs and symptoms promptly resolved under corticosteroid therapy without relapse.

A high level of suspicion of GCA in individuals over the age of 50 years is needed to prevent the development of severe complications. Clinicians should be aware of uncommon manifestations of the disease such as head–neck swelling and ophthalmoplegia: management guidelines have stated that prompt administration of adequate dose of corticosteroids as soon as ocular manifestations of GCA are noted may almost totally prevent blindness.

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