Utility of 18F-fluoro-dexoxyglucose positron emission tomography for the diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica: a controlled study

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Objectives. To compare 18F-fluoro-dexoxyglucose PET/CT (FDG-PET/CT) findings in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and controls without rheumatologic disease.Methods. We retrospectively included 50 patients with a diagnosis of PMR as well as 53 patients with a neoplasm as a control group. All patients underwent FDG-PET/CT. Seventeen hotspots were analysed. We performed a semi-quantitative analysis of FDG uptake (4-point score from 0 to 3). The cut-offs for the number of sites with high activity and for FDG uptake score were assessed using receiver operating characteristics curves and odds ratios (ORs).Results. The two groups were comparable for the median patient age (69.3 years for PMR vs 68.1 for controls). Significant differences between the two groups were found for FDG uptake score (1.12 vs 0.34, P < 0.00001) and for the number of sites with significant uptake (score ≥ 2): 6.36 sites vs 1.49 sites (P < 0.00001). The presence of three or more sites with significant uptake was correlated with the diagnosis of PMR with 74% sensitivity and 79% specificity (OR = 10.8). For the FDG uptake score, the cut-off was 0.53 (sensitivity 80%, specificity 77%, OR = 13.6). We found significant differences in all sites for FDG uptake score and the number of sites with significant uptake, particularly marked for shoulders, ischial tuberosities and interspinous bursitis (P < 0.00001 for FDG uptake score).Conclusion. Our results suggest that the number of sites with significant FDG uptake and the uptake score could be relevant criteria for the diagnosis of PMR.

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