Aim: Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is a disease presenting with pain and stiffness, mainly in shoulders, hip joints and neck. Laboratory markers of inflammation may bolster diagnosis. PMR afflicts patients over 50 years old, predominantly women, and may also accompany giant cell arteritis.
Patients and methods: 67 patients, who fullfiled Healey´s criteria for PMR in the period between 2004 and 2013 and had positive FDG PET (PET/CT) findings were retrospectively evaluated. FDG uptake was assessed in large arteries, proximal joints (shoulders, hips and sternoclavicular joints), in extraarticular synovial structures (interspinous, ischiogluteal and praepubic bursae).
Results: Articular/periarticular involvement (A) was detected in 59/67 (88.1%) patients and extrarticular synovial involvement (E) in 51/67 (76.1%) patients either individually or in combinations. Vascular involvement (V) was detected in 27/67 (40.3%) patients only in combination with articular (A) and/or extraarticular synovial (E) involvement. These combinations were: A+E involvement in 30/67 (44.8%) patients, A+V involvement in 8/67 (11.9%) patients, E+V involvement in 6/67 (9%) patients and A+E+V in 13/67 (19.4%) patients.
Conclusions: PMR presents by articular/periarticular synovitis, extraarticular synovitis and can be accompanied by giant cell arteritis. All types of involvement have their distinct FDG PET (PET/CT) finding, which can be seen either individually or in any of their 4 combinations. FDG PET (PET/CT) examination seems to be an advantageous one-step examination for detecting different variants of PMR, for assessing extent and severity and also for excluding occult malignancy.
Keywords: FDG; PET; PET/CT; bursitis; giant cell arteritis; polymyalgia rheumatica; synovitis; vasculitis.