Different scoring methods of FDG PET/CT in Giant cell arteritis need for standardization

Menno D. Stellingwerff, Elisabeth Brouwer, Karel Jan D.F. Lensen, Abraham Rutgers, Suzanne Arends, Kornelis S.M. Van Der Geest, Andor W.J.M. Glaudemans, Riemer H.J.A. Slart

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Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is the most frequent form of vasculitis in persons older than 50 years. Cranial and systemic large vessels can be involved. [18F] fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) is increasingly used to diagnose inflammation of the large arteries in GCA. Unfortunately, no consensus exists on the preferred scoring method. In the present study, we aim to define the optimal FDG PET/CT scoring method for GCA diagnosis using temporal artery biopsy and clinical diagnosis as the reference method. FDG PET/CT scans of GCA patients (12 glucocorticoid-naive, 6 on glucocorticoid treatment) and 3 control groups (inflammatory, atherosclerotic, and normal controls) were evaluated. We compared 2 qualitative visual methods (i.e. (1a) first impression and (1b) vascular uptake versus liver uptake) and 4 semiquantitative methods ((2a) SUVmax aorta, (2b) SUVmax aorta-to-liver ratio, (2c) SUVmax aorta-tosuperior-caval-vein ratio, and (2d) SUVmax aorta-to-inferior-cavalvein ratio). FDG uptake pattern (diffuse or focal) and presence of arterial calcifications were also scored. Diagnostic accuracy of the visual method vascular versus liver uptake (1b) was highest when the cut-off point "vascular uptake higher than liver uptake" (sensitivity 83%, specificity 91%) was used. Sensitivity increased to 92% when patients on glucocorticoids were excluded from the analysis. Regarding the semiquantitative methods, the aorta-to-liver ratio (2b) with a cutoff of 1.03 had the highest diagnostic accuracy, with a sensitivity and specificity of 69% and 92%, respectively. Sensitivity increased to 90% when patients on glucocorticoids were excluded. The number of vascular segments with diffuse FDG uptake pattern was significantly higher in GCA patients without glucocorticoid use compared with all control patient groups. CRP was not significantly different between positive and negative FDG PET scans in the GCA group. Visual vascular uptake higher than liver uptake resulted in the highest diagnostic accuracy for the detection of GCA, especially in combination with a diffuse FDG uptake pattern. Of the semiquantitative methods, the aorta-to-liver SUVmax ratio (cutoff point=1.03) had the highest diagnostic accuracy. The diagnostic accuracy increased when patients using glucocorticoids were excluded from the analyses.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedicine (United States)
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015

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