COVID-19 information

Visiting is once again welcomed at The Walton Centre. So that we can safely reintroduce visiting, visits should be pre-booked with an allocated appointment slot. Patients can have two visitors each.

General safety measures remain in place at The Walton Centre - and in our other clinic settings within the community – until further notice. These include temperature checks, the wearing of face coverings and social distancing.

Biopsy - Temporal Artery

What is a temporal artery biopsy?

A temporal artery biopsy is a procedure in which a small piece of your temporal artery is removed then studied under a microscope to check for signs of inflammation and damage.

Why is a temporal artery biopsy performed?

A temporal artery biopsy is performed if you are experiencing headache, jaw pain or problems with your vision and your doctor suspects inflammation such as temporal arteritis (also known as giant cell arteritis) could be the cause. It is performed by a surgical doctor.

How to prepare for a temporal artery biopsy?

You don’t need to do much to prepare for this procedure. Please tell your doctor about any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements you are taking prior to a procedure. They will discuss whether you should stop taking them before and during the test.

If you are unable to attend for your biopsy appointment please let the hospital know as soon as possible (you can call the Jefferson ward booking team directly on 0151 529 5488). Failure to attend without proper notice wastes a theatre slot and will result in you being removed from the surgical waiting list. This could result in a significant delay to a diagnosis being made.

What happens during a temporal artery biopsy?

On the day of the biopsy, you will change into a hospital gown and taken to an operating theatre where the procedure will be done. The surgeon will locate your temporal artery. He or she will then use a small needle to deliver local anaesthetic 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. 

Recovering from a temporal artery biopsy

You will be able to go home following biopsy. You can eat and drink normally. You will have a small dressing on your temple, and you may experience a little pain as the local anaesthetic wears off.

Your wound will take several days to completely heal from the procedure, so during this time, it's important to avoid strenuous activity. Book an appointment with your practice nurse (or local walk-in centre) for suture removal or just a wound check (if dissolvable sutures were used) 10 days after surgery. Your doctor may have already given you instructions for starting an anti-inflammatory medication such as steroids after the biopsy.

Risks of a temporal artery biopsy

While a temporal artery biopsy is considered to be a safe procedure, there are still risks involved, including a small risk of bleeding, infection, scarring and allergic reaction to the local anaesthetic.

After a temporal artery biopsy

After the biopsy, the tissue sample is sent to a laboratory to be studied for signs of temporal artery inflammation or damage. It may take a few weeks for results to be ready. Once the results are back, your doctor may call you or have you come into clinic for a follow up appointment to discuss the findings. They will discuss treatment options with you. 

  • Last Updated:
    01 October 2019
  • Review Date:
    01 November 2023
  • Author:
    Ms M Lee, Dr J Holt, V2.0
  • Summary:

    A temporal artery biopsy is a procedure in which a small piece of your temporal artery is removed then studied under a microscope to check for signs of inflammation and damage.

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