Polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis—three challenges—consequences of the vasculitis process, osteoporosis, and malignancy: A prospective cohort study protocol

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Introduction:Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and giant cell arteritis (GCA) are common inflammatory conditions. The diagnosis of PMR/GCA poses many challenges since there are no specific diagnostic tests. Recent literature emphasizes the ability of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (18F-FDG PET/CT) to assess global disease activity in inflammatory diseases. 18F-FDG PET/CT may lead to the diagnosis at an earlier stage than conventional imaging and may also assess response to therapy. With respect to the management of PMR/GCA, there are 3 significant areas of concern as follows: vasculitis process/vascular stiffness, malignancy, and osteoporosis.Methods and analysis:All patients with suspected PMR/GCR referred to the Rheumatology section of Medicine Department at Svendborg Hospital, Denmark. The 4 separate studies in the current protocol focus on: the association of clinical picture of PMR/GCA with PET findings; the validity of 18F-FDG PET/CT scan for diagnosis of PMR/GCA compared with temporal artery biopsy; the prevalence of newly diagnosed malignancies in patients with PMR/GCA, or PMR-like syndrome, with the focus on diagnostic accuracy of 18F-FDG PET/CT scan compared with conventional workup (ie, chest X-ray/abdominal ultrasound); and the impact of disease process, and also steroid treatment on bone mineral density, body composition, and vasculitis/vascular stiffness in PMR/GCA patients.Ethics and dissemination:The study has been approved by the Regional Ethics Committee of the Region of Southern Denmark (identification number: S-20160098) and Danish Data Protection Agency (J.nr 16/40522). Results of the study will be disseminated via publications in peer-reviewed journals, and presentation at national and international conferences.

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