18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography and the risk of subsequent aortic complications in giant-cell arteritis: A multicenter cohort of 130 patients

Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Jun;95(26):e3851. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000003851.


Previous studies reported a 2- to 17-fold higher risk of aortic complications (dilation or dissection) in patients with giant-cell arteritis (GCA). We aimed to determine whether or not GCA patients with large-vessel involvement demonstrated by positron emission tomography with F-fluorodeoxyglucose combined with computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) have a higher risk of aortic complications. We conducted a retrospective multicenter study between 1995 and 2014. Patients were included if they fulfilled at least 3 American College of Rheumatology criteria for GCA, or 2 criteria associated with extratemporal biopsy-proven giant-cell vasculitis; they underwent at least 1 FDG-PET/CT scan at diagnosis or during follow-up; and the morphology of the aorta was assessed by medical imaging at diagnosis. Patients with an aortic complication at the time of diagnosis were excluded. Of the 130 patients included [85 women (65%), median age 70 (50-86)], GCA was biopsy proven in 77 (59%). FDG-PET/CT was performed at diagnosis in 63 (48%) patients and during the follow-up period in the 67 (52%) remaining patients. FDG-PET/CT was positive in 38/63 (60%) patients at diagnosis and in 31/67 (46%) patients when performed during follow-up (P = NS). One hundred four patients (80%) underwent at least 1 morphological assessment of the aorta during follow-up. Nine (9%) patients developed aortic complications (dilation in all and dissection in 1) at a median time of 33 (6-129) months after diagnosis. All of them displayed large-vessel inflammation on previous FDG-PET/CT. A positive FDG-PET/CT was significantly associated with a higher risk of aortic complications (P = 0.004).In our study, a positive FDG-PET/CT was associated with an increased risk of aortic complications at 5 years.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aortic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Aortic Diseases / etiology*
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18