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Ellen Margrethe Hauge

Three days of high-dose glucocorticoid treatment attenuates large-vessel 18F-FDG uptake in large-vessel giant cell arteritis but with a limited impact on diagnostic accuracy

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PURPOSE: To evaluate the in-treatment diagnostic accuracy of FDG PET/CT in large-vessel giant cell arteritis (LV-GCA) by serial scans before and after a short course of high-dose glucocorticoid treatment.

METHODS: Twenty-four glucocorticoid-naïve patients with new-onset PET/CT verified LV-GCA (pre-treatment baseline PET) were prospectively included. Excluded were patients with a previous history of GCA or polymyalgia rheumatica, LV-GCA-mimicking conditions and patients on immunosuppressive therapy. All patients were treated with 60 mg of oral prednisolone daily and assigned for in-treatment FDG PET/CT after either 3 (PET3) or 10 days (PET10). Two experienced nuclear medicine physicians, blinded to patients' clinical data, reviewed the FDG PET/CT images. A visual semi-quantitative approach was used. Segmental and homogenous FDG uptake in the wall of the aorta and/or supra-aortic branches with higher uptake intensity than liver was considered consistent with vasculitis. Inter-reader reliability was evaluated.

RESULTS: Although glucocorticoid treatment attenuated FDG uptake in large vessels, LV-GCA was accurately diagnosed in 10/10 patients after 3 days of treatment, but only in 5/14 patients after 10 days of treatment (p < 0.001). Interrater reliability was substantial (agreement 87%, Cohen's weighted kappa 0.70). No correlation between CRP and FDG uptake was found.

CONCLUSIONS: Within 3 days of high-dose glucocorticoid treatment, FDG PET/CT can diagnose LV-GCA with high sensitivity. This window of opportunity ensures that prompt glucocorticoid treatment can be initiated to avoid debilitating GCA complications with a limited effect on diagnostic accuracy. After 10 days of treatment, FDG PET/CT sensitivity decreases significantly.

TidsskriftEuropean Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
StatusUdgivet - 18 apr. 2018

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