High-resolution multipinhole single-photon-emission computed tomography in experimental and human arthritis

Arthritis Rheum. 2006 Apr;54(4):1096-104. doi: 10.1002/art.21732.


Objective: To image inflammatory arthritic lesions in experimental arthritis and in patients with arthritis, using a newly developed high-resolution multipinhole single-photon-emission computed tomography (MPH-SPECT) technique.

Methods: Six interleukin-1 receptor antagonist-deficient mice with arthritis of the front and back paws and 2 control BALB/c mice were imaged with MPH-SPECT and scored macroscopically for arthritis. SPECT imaging was performed with a conventional gamma camera upgraded with a pyramidal lead collimator affixed with MPH apertures. All images were reconstructed, and uptake in the paws was quantified in counts/weight and injected activity. To transfer the imaging technique to humans we examined the clinically dominant hand of 6 individuals (3 with established rheumatoid arthritis [RA], 1 with early RA, 1 with osteoarthritis, and 1 healthy control).

Results: MPH-SPECT images were high-resolution 3-dimensional tomographic images, which allowed exact localization and quantifiable observation of increased bone metabolism. MPH-SPECT counts of inflamed joints in mice correlated with macroscopic scoring and histologic joint analysis postmortem. In humans, MPH-SPECT images depicted a detailed visualization of tracer accumulation in bony structures of hand and finger joints, and were also capable of imaging increased bone metabolism that had appeared normal with other imaging modalities, e.g., magnetic resonance imaging.

Conclusion: The MPH-SPECT technique represents a new diagnostic tool in the detection of bone pathology in small-animal arthritis research. Compared with macroscopic scoring, this new method provides a more objective and higher-precision quantifiable measurement of bone reaction, allowing visualization of inflammatory processes of the whole skeleton in vivo. These results suggest that MPH-SPECT may be useful as a diagnostic instrument for monitoring experimental arthritis, with further potential for use in human studies of RA.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Arthritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Middle Aged
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon* / methods