To define the proportions of agreement between fluorine‐18‐fluorodeoxyglucose (18F‐FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT), clinical diagnosis, and temporal artery biopsy (TAB) in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and giant cell arteritis (GCA). Furthermore, the association of 18F‐FDG PET/CT uptake patterns and clinical presentation of newly diagnosed PMR and GCA was investigated.
Eighty patients newly suspected of having PMR, GCA, or concomitant PMR and GCA were included and followed for 40 weeks. Every patient underwent an 18F‐FDG PET/CT scan before or within 3 days of initiation of steroids in case of GCA. FDG uptakes in 8 paired articular/periarticular sites and 14 arterial segments were evaluated based on a 4‐point visual grading scale.
Of the 80 patients (female: 50 [62.5%]; mean age ± SD: 72.0 ± 7.9), 64 (80.0%) patients were diagnosed with pure PMR, 3 (3.7%) with pure GCA, and 10 (12.5%) with concomitant PMR and GCA. Additionally, three (3.7%) patients were diagnosed with seronegative rheumatoid arthritis during the follow‐up period. For the diagnosis of PMR, 18F‐FDG PET/CT had a proportion of agreement of 75.3 (64.2‐84.4), compared with clinical diagnosis. When comparing findings of 18F‐FDG PET/CT with TAB, 18F‐FDG PET/CT had a proportion of agreement of 93.0 (84.3‐97.7) in all included patients and 69.2 (38.6‐90.9) in the subgroup of patients with vasculitis. C‐reactive protein was significantly higher in patients with PMR activity on 18F‐FDG PET/CT compared with those without 18F‐FDG PET/CT activity (P value = 0.006).
18F‐FDG PET/CT is a powerful imaging technique in PMR and GCA that was in good agreement with clinical diagnosis and TAB.