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What is the purpose of a temporal artery duplex ultrasound?

What is the purpose of a temporal artery duplex ultrasound?

A temporal artery duplex ultrasound examines the temporal arteries, which are located in the temples of the head. This type of vascular ultrasound exam is often used to help diagnose temporal arteritis, also known as giant cell arteritis. 

Giant cell arteritis is characterized by an inflammation of medium and larger arteries (vasculitis). Typically, this occurs in the temporal arteries and is called temporal arteritis. Vasculitis results in swelling of the arterial walls, which narrows the vessels and restricts blood flow and therefore oxygen. Common symptoms include recurring, throbbing headaches, jaw pain, tenderness in the scalp, and vision problems. More serious complications include blindness, aortic aneurysm, or stroke. For these reasons, early diagnosis and treatment with corticosteroids are critical. 

Temporal arteritis can be diagnosed in two ways: a temporal artery duplex ultrasound and a temporal artery biopsy. An ultrasound exam is a risk-free, painless, and noninvasive imaging method, while a biopsy is a surgical procedure requiring anesthesia. 

A temporal artery duplex ultrasound can help determine if temporal arteritis is present and if a temporal artery biopsy is necessary. This ultrasound exam uses Doppler technology to evaluate the speed and direction of blood flow within the veins and arteries. A handheld device called a transducer emits harmless soundwaves that help create these images. 

If your physician suspects you may have temporal arteritis, then you may be referred for this specialized ultrasound exam. During the exam, a Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) will use a transducer to press on the skin on both sides of the forehead to view the temporal arteries and evaluate blood flow. Afterward, results will be sent to an interpreting physician and your referring provider for final diagnosis. 


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  2. Giant Cell Arteritis. Mayo Clinic.
  3. Giant Cell Arteritis (Temporal Arteritis). Ameer, M.A., Peterfy, R.J., Khazaeni, B. StatPearls.
  4. Types of Ultrasound. Ultrasound Quotes.