Temporal Artery Ligation vs. Temporal Artery Biopsy

Q: Dr. Eppley, I have a question about temporal artery ligation. Is the procedure you undertake similar to a traditional temporal artery biopsy?  I wasn’t sure if a biopsy results in the artery being completely tied off, or if it is somehow reconnected after the sample section is removed.  Just curious if there are any similarities between the two procedures — i.e. biopsy versus ligation.

A: Your question is a good one as both procedures operate on the anterior branch of the superficial temporal artery. But that is where the similarities end. A temporal artery biopsy uses a single long incision just behind the hairline before the artery heads out into the forehead. A one cm section of the artery is removed since it is sent off to pathology for histologic evaluation. The ends are tied off and the gap remains between the two ends. Its intent is to get a specimen and not to treat vessel prominence.

Conversely temporal artery ligation, or more properly called ligations, involves the placement of numerous small incisions ( 5mm to 7mm) both in the hairline and out on the forehead. Its goal is to shut off both forward and backward flow into the visible artery so it is no longer seen. The vessels are tied off at these various skin locations but no section of the artery is removed.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana