Background: A pilot study was performed investigating the possibility that positron emission tomography (PET) activity using 18-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) with nearly simultaneous computerized tomography (CT) for anatomic accuracy would identify regions of active inflammation in both ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD).
Methods: Prospective clinical data was collected in 12 patients experiencing an exacerbation of their inflammatory bowel disease; 7 with CD and 5 with UC. A PET/CT scan (GE Discovery LS PET/CT scanner) was performed in all patients. Twenty patients undergoing PET/CT because of solitary pulmonary nodules served as controls. We graded the small bowel and 4 colon regions (ascending, transverse, descending, and rectosigmoid) with PET activity scores assigned to each region based on the amount of FDG uptake using the liver as the reference organ.
Results: In UC patients, PET activity was seen in 13 of 24 (52%) regions. There was high (23 of 24; 95.8%) correlation between PET activity and disease activity as determined by colonoscopy, disease activity indices, and radiology. In patients with CD, PET activity was seen in 19 of 32 (59.4%) regions. Again, there was a high (26 of 32; 81.3%) correlation between PET activity and clinical disease activity. Of the 20 controls, significant PET activity (Grades 2 and 3) was seen in only 2 of 100 regions (2%).
Conclusions: We found that PET activity correlated well with active inflammation in both UC and CD, suggesting that this may be a noninvasive method of identifying disease activity in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.