PURPOSE OF REPORT: F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) can be used to image synovitis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of this study was to evaluate if a simple scoring system based on visual assessment of FDG joint uptake correlates with the clinical assessment of patients with RA undergoing antiinflammatory treatment.
Materials and methods: Seven patients with active RA underwent whole-body FDG PET and clinical assessment before and after treatment with the antitumor necrosis factor alpha antibody (infliximab). A PET total joint score, ie, the sum of all scores based on FDG uptake intensity between zero and 4 in 28 joints, was correlated with a total joint score based on the clinical disease activity in the same joints using a Spearman rank correlation.
Results: The PET based total joint score was similarly high before onset as was the clinical total joint score. The decrease of FDG joint uptake in the follow-up PET scans correlated significantly with the clinical assessment. Additionally, synovial FDG uptake was found in extraarticular sites such as tendon sheaths and bursae.
Conclusions: Visual assessment of FDG uptake shows a significant correlation with clinical evaluation of disease activity in patients with RA undergoing antiinflammatory treatment.