Grant Application

Sebastian E. Sattui, MD, MS, UPMC Vasculitis Center

Proposed Innovation

Giant cell arteritis (GCA), or temporal arteritis, is the most common form of vasculitis in adults over age 50. GCA often causes headache, fatigue, and fever, plus a wide array of other symptoms. In some cases, sudden blindness can occur, which is why rapid diagnosis and treatment is critical.

This project aims to establish a fast-track pathway providing patients with suspected GCA with rapid access to timely evaluation, including vascular ultrasound, and assessment by a multidisciplinary team of specialists.

Improvements in Action

Through this project, a GCA fast-track line will be created with two to three rheumatologists providing on-call coverage. Patients with vision loss or other urgent symptoms will be referred to the Emergency Department. Those suspected of having GCA will be further evaluated by the rheumatology team. An ultrasound machine will be purchased to ensure fast access to crucial diagnostic vascular ultrasound.

This project includes education to build awareness among primary care physicians of GCA and the need for rapid evaluation and treatment.

Intended Outcomes

The fast-track approach along with the use of vascular ultrasound will provide effective triage for patients needing an urgent diagnosis and treatment of GCA. It’s expected to result in a decreased risk of vision loss and other complications and fewer hospitalizations. Building awareness of GCA also is expected to lead to better patient outcomes.