Objectives: Detection of disease activity in Crohn's disease (CD) is of crucial importance for diagnosis and management of the disease. Noninvasive methods for monitoring are desirable and comprise hydromagnetic resonance imaging (hydro-MRI) and leukocyte scintigraphy. In addition, a recent case report indicated the potential of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) to assess CD activity. However, comparative prospective studies are lacking.
Methods: Between February, 1999 and August, 2000, 59 patients with CD were enrolled in a prospective study to assess disease activity by FDG-PET, hydro-MRI, and immunoscintigraphy with anti-nonspecific cross-reacting antigen 95 antigranulocyte antibodies. In 28 of these patients, colonoscopy could be performed. Twelve patients with irritable bowel syndrome and 20 tumor patients without gut inflammation served as controls. Results were compared by statistical analysis.
Results: FDG-PET detected 127 pathological findings (average maximum standardized uptake value = 4.4 +/- 1.1) in the terminal/neoterminal ileum (37), small bowel (24), and colon (66) of 54 patients with CD, whereas no pathological findings were seen in five patients with CD, the control patients with irritable bowel syndrome, and the tumor patients without gut inflammation. In contrast, examination with hydro-MRI or granulocyte antibodies detected less pathological findings in CD patients. Forty-five of the detected foci were accessible to endoscopic verification. The correlation of the foci with endoscopic findings showed a high specificity (>89%) of all three methods to detect inflamed areas in the terminal ileum and colon of patients with CD, although analyses by hydro-MRI and granulocyte antibody scan had strikingly lower sensitivities (40.9% and 66.7%) than FDG-PET analysis (85.4%).
Conclusions: FDG-PET appears to be a reliable noninvasive tool for simultaneous detection of inflamed areas in the small and large bowel of patients with CD. FDG-PET can be used to detect disease activity in the terminal ileum and colon of CD patients with high sensitivity and specificity.