Fludeoxyglucose positron emission tomography in the diagnosis of giant cell arteritis

Arch Intern Med. 2001 Apr 9;161(7):1003-7. doi: 10.1001/archinte.161.7.1003.


We describe a case in which fludeoxyglucose F 18 positron emission tomography (PET) led directly to the diagnosis of giant cell arteritis in an elderly woman with a fever of unknown origin. The patient presented with a 3-month history of fatigue, fever, headache, visual disturbance, jaw claudication, and anemia. A computed tomographic scan showed an anterior mediastinal mass that was suspected of being malignant. A fludeoxyglucose F 18 PET scan performed for preoperative evaluation identified striking uptake of fludeoxyglucose F 18 in the walls of the entire aorta, left main coronary artery, and subclavian, carotid, and common iliac arteries bilaterally, suggestive of an arteritis, a diagnosis subsequently confirmed by the findings of an arterial biopsy. Her erythrocyte sedimentation rate was 129 mm/h. There was normalizaton of the PET scan 2 weeks following treatment with prednisolone. This case suggests that fludeoxyglucose F 18 PET contributes to the noninvasive diagnosis of giant cell arteritis, as well as to the evaluation of the extent of disease, response to therapy, and disease recurrence.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anemia, Hypochromic / etiology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biopsy
  • Blood Sedimentation
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Female
  • Fever of Unknown Origin / etiology
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / blood
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / complications
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / drug therapy
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Weight Loss


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Prednisolone