Ultrasound and PET-CT Correlation in Shoulder Pathology: A 5-Year Retrospective Analysis

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To correlate shoulder ultrasound and radiography with 18F-FDG PET-CT to establish FDG uptake and therefore range of metabolic activity, as defined by SUV analysis, in various symptomatic shoulder pathologies.


Retrospective database query was performed for shoulder ultrasound and PET-CT scans between January 2012 and January 2017. Patients who had both studies within 1 year were included. Age- and sex-matched control patients with PET-CT scans only were also included. Retrospective image review determined shoulder pathology, and 18F-FDG SUVmax was measured using regions of interest placed at the glenohumeral joint, rotator cuff/bursa, and bicipital groove. Glenohumeral and acromioclavicular osteoarthrosis was assessed by radiography using the Kellgren-Lawrence classification system.


Thirty-three patients had both imaging studies within 1 year. Ten patients (11 cases) were included, ranging in age from 56 to 90 years (mean, 67.9 years). Control subjects were selected among patients receiving PET-CT within 1 week of symptomatic patients. Glenohumeral osteoarthrosis was mild in 3 (27%), moderate in 2 (18%), and severe in 2 (18%). Six full-thickness rotator cuff tears (55%) were identified. SUVmax means were compared between the pathologic and control groups and were significantly higher in the former: glenohumeral joint (1.96 vs 1.32; P = 0.016), rotator cuff/bursa (2.80 vs 2.0; P = 0.005), and bicipital groove (2.19 vs 1.48; P = 0.007). The highest values were seen in full-thickness rotator cuff tear and severe biceps tenosynovitis.


Increased metabolic activity about the shoulder is associated with a spectrum of rotator cuff, glenohumeral joint, and other soft tissue pathology that can be correlated with diagnostic ultrasound findings.

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