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Patient-reported involvement of the eighth cranial nerve in giant cell arteritis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Vadivelu Saravanan, Dr Clive Kelly



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2019, The Author(s).Introduction: The frequency of eighth nerve lesions in patients with giant cell arteritis (GCA) has rarely been examined. However, sudden onset deafness has been recorded as a presenting feature of GCA on several occasions. This study sought to establish how common this and other symptoms of eighth nerve involvement are in a large retrospective survey. Methods: We contacted 170 patients with GCA and 250 matched PMR patients, inviting them to participate in a questionnaire survey of symptoms of eighth nerve dysfunction. We compared the presence of deafness, tinnitus, loss of balance and vertigo in both groups and examined the relationship between the onset of these symptoms and other features of GCA. Results: A total of 317 patients were recruited. The percentage of patients with symptoms of possible vestibulocochlear disease prior to commencement of steroid therapy was significantly greater among GCA patients than PMR patients for all domains. Hearing loss which was twice as common in GCA as in PMR (53% vs 26%) [p = 0.001]. Deafness was concurrent in 35% of GCA patients with other symptoms and 45% reported colocation with headache. Recovery with steroids occurred in 56% of these. Conclusion: Symptoms of eighth nerve dysfunction are present in over half of patients with GCA. Recovery with steroids was predicted by concurrence with headache in terms of both timing and location. It appears that eighth nerve involvement, especially acute hearing loss, is a not infrequent feature of GCA and often responds well to steroid therapy. Clinicians should enquire about these symptoms when evaluating a patient for possible GCA.Key Points• Deafness is a frequent presenting feature of giant cell arteritis.• Vertigo, tinnitus and loss of balance are also often reported by GCA sufferers.• Steroid therapy is more likely to relieve these symptoms if they are ipsilateral and concurrent with headache.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Saravanan V, Pugmire S, Smith M, Kelly C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Clinical Rheumatology

Year: 2019

Volume: 38

Pages: 3655-3660

Online publication date: 16/08/2019

Acceptance date: 08/08/2019

Date deposited: 30/08/2019

ISSN (print): 0770-3198

ISSN (electronic): 1434-9949

Publisher: Springer London


DOI: 10.1007/s10067-019-04747-3


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