Headache Home > Temporal Artery Biopsy

When a person is believed to have temporal arteritis, a doctor may recommend a temporal artery biopsy. During this procedure, a small piece of tissue is removed from the temporal artery and studied for signs of inflammation and damage. This is a relatively safe procedure, although it does have associated risks (which your doctor will discuss with you).

An Overview of Temporal Artery Biopsy

A temporal artery biopsy is a procedure in which a small piece of tissue is removed from your temporal artery and then studied under a microscope to check for signs of inflammation and damage.
A temporal artery biopsy is recommended when the doctor believes a person may have temporal arteritis (also known as giant cell arteritis or cranial arteritis).

What Happens During a Temporal Artery Biopsy?

On the day of the biopsy, you will change into a hospital gown and may be taken to a special room where the procedure will be done. Your healthcare provider will locate your temporal artery. He or she will then use a small needle to deliver medicine that will numb the skin near the biopsy site. Then, a small incision will be made in the skin and a very small piece of tissue will be removed from the temporal artery. The skin will be closed with stitches.
The sample of tissue taken during the biopsy will be studied for signs of temporal artery damage. It will take a few days for you to get the results.

Recovering From a Temporal Artery Biopsy

You will be able to go home following the temporal artery biopsy. You can eat and drink normally. You will have a small bandage on your temple, and you may experience a little pain as the numbing medicine wears off.
Your temporal artery will take several days to completely heal from the procedure, so during this time, it's important to avoid strenuous activity. You will need to return to the clinic in several days to have your stitches removed.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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