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Temporal arteritis with low erythrocyte sedimentation rate: a review of five cases.

We compared 5 patients who had biopsy-proven temporal arteritis and erythrocyte sedimentation rates (ESR) less than 50 mm/hour with 25 patients who had temporal arteritis and high ESR and with 10 patients who had negative temporal artery biopsy results and low ESR. Patients with low-ESR temporal arteritis were similar to the other groups, except that they had a higher mean hemoglobin level than the high-ESR group and a significant increase in the percentage of patients (4 of 5) who had a previous diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica or had received steroid therapy compared with either of the other groups. The latter finding suggests that even low-dose steroid therapy can lower the ESR in patients with temporal arteritis. We conclude that the ESR is low in only a small percentage of patients with temporal arteritis, and that most of these patients have a history of polymyalgia rheumatica or steroid therapy.

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