To assess the diagnostic usefulness of temporal artery biopsy in temporal arteritis (TA) and establish clinical features capable of predicting its positivity we have retrospectively studied the biopsy specimens and the clinical features of 103 patients who had undergone temporal artery biopsy. Temporal artery biopsy reached a positive predictive value of 90.2% with respect to the final diagnosis based on the criteria proposed by Ellis and Ralston and the clinical course. The simultaneous presence of recent onset headache, jaw claudication, and abnormalities of the temporal arteries on physical examination had a specificity of 94.8% with respect to the histological diagnosis and of 100% with respect to final diagnosis. The presence of any of these clinical features, though of little specificity (34.4%), had a sensitivity of 100% with respect to histological diagnosis, selecting a group of patients in whom temporal artery biopsy has more discriminative value.
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