Objective: To assess the relationship between clinical picture and neuroimaging in patients affected by SLE with and without neuropsychiatric (NP) involvement.
Methods: One hundred and seven SLE patients including 66 with NP involvement (NPSLE) with focal or diffuse presentation and 41 without underwent single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and MRI.
Results: After stratification for diffuse or focal NP involvement, in the 52 patients with diffuse presentation, abnormalities detected with MRI or SPECT did not differ from patients without NP; however, after combining the two techniques, a normal result was more frequently observed in patients without NP involvement (P = 0.010). In the 14 patients with focal presentation, MRI alone and concordant abnormal MRI plus SPECT were more frequently detected in the NPSLE group; again normal findings by both techniques simultaneously applied were more frequently found in SLE patients without NP involvement. White matter hyperintense T2-weighted lesions were the most frequent MRI abnormal findings in both groups, but the presence of multiple lesions (>5) involving both the hemispheres at subtentorial level was limited to NPSLE patients. Multifocal hypoperfused SPECT areas were more frequently observed in frontal and parietal lobes of NPSLE.
Conclusions: Combining SPECT and MRI appears more useful than the two techniques alone and may help the clinician in the assessment of patients with NP involvement since normal findings contemporarily detected by these two techniques have been rarely observed in patients with NP involvement especially in those with focal manifestations where MRI and SPECT were never simultaneously normal.