19 Jan Temporal Artery Biopsy
The temporal artery is a small blood vessel found in the temple region on either side of your head. Because this vessel is relatively accessible compared to arteries found elsewhere, biopsies of this vessel are often performed to check for inflammation that may be present in other vessels in your body. Remember that all arteries are branches of the same tree – if inflammation is found in this small temporal artery, you are likely to have inflammation in other arteries/”branches” as well. Removing a small piece of this blood vessel (i.e. performing a biopsy) allows pathologists to examine the specimen under a microscope to check for any evidence of disease.
The procedure is an out-patient procedure that typically requires around an hour or so to perform, and is often performed in the procedure room of our office. Most patients requiring this procedure are over the age of 60, and are sent to me by other central valley physicians. The procedure may require us to shave a portion of your hair in the region if the temple and sideburns to better access the temporal artery. The procedure is generally well tolerated with most patients only experiencing mild discomfort following the procedure. Complications are relatively rare, but include bleeding, infection, scarring, and possible nerve injury. I have performed many temporal artery biopsies, and am happy to discuss the procedure further in person.