April 2011
Volume 52, Issue 14
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2011
Temporal Artery Biopsies in African-Americans versus Caucasians
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Russell W. Read
    University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Lanning B. Kline
    University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Michael S. Vaphiades
    University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Ronald Braswell
    University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  Russell W. Read, None; Lanning B. Kline, None; Michael S. Vaphiades, None; Ronald Braswell, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  Unrestricted grants from Research to Prevent Blindness and the EyeSight Foundation of Alabama. Dr. Read is a Research to Prevent Blindness Physician Scientist.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2011, Vol.52, 4087. doi:
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      Russell W. Read, Lanning B. Kline, Michael S. Vaphiades, Ronald Braswell; Temporal Artery Biopsies in African-Americans versus Caucasians. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):4087.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Temporal arteritis is a systemic vasculitis affecting medium and large arteries. The condition is found most commonly in individuals of European descent and much less commonly in those of African descent. We sought to characterize whether differences exist in Caucasian and African American patients undergoing temporal artery biopsy for presumed temporal arteritis at a single center in the southeastern United States.


Cases of temporal artery biopsy were identified from the computerized case database of the UAB Ophthalmic Pathology Laboratory for the period 2003-2006 inclusive. Age at biopsy, race, gender, and pathological diagnosis were recorded. Statistical analyses were carried out using Prism 4 for Macintosh software (version 4.0b, GraphPad Software, Inc, La Jolla, CA).


A total of 223 temporal biopsy specimens were accessioned during the study period. Three patients were neither African American nor Caucasian and were thus not included. For the total population, age was significantly older in patients with a positive biopsy at 74 years compared to 69 years for those with a negative biopsy (p=0.006). There was a trend toward a greater incidence of a positive biopsy in females (27%) compared to males (16%) (p=0.08). Of the total patient population undergoing biopsy, African Americans comprised 14.5% and Caucasians 85.5%. Data from the 2000 US Census indicates that African Americans make up 26% and Caucasians 70% of the Alabama population. The median age of African Americans was 69 years and for Caucasians 71 years (p=0.3). 72% of African Americans were female compared to 67% of Caucasians (p=0.69). Within the African American population, 19% had a positive biopsy while 25% of Caucasians did (p=0.65). Evaluating for differences within ethnic groups, both African Americans and Caucasians with positive biopsies tended to be older than those with negative biopsies (p=0.07 and p=0.03, respectively). There were more females with positive biopsies in both groups though neither reached statistical significance.


More Caucasians underwent temporal artery biopsies over a 4 year period than did African Americans. Demographics and outcomes of biopsy did not significantly differ between groups. Based on historical census data, it would appear that suspicion leading to temporal artery biopsy is more common for Caucasians, but that once undergoing biopsy, patient demographic characteristics do not differ.

Keywords: pathology: human 

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