18F-FDG PET/MRI in Chronic Sciatica: Early Results Revealing Spinal and Nonspinal Abnormalities

J Nucl Med. 2018 Jun;59(6):967-972. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.117.198259. Epub 2017 Nov 2.


Chronic sciatica is a major cause of disability worldwide, but accurate diagnosis of the causative pathology remains challenging. In this report, the feasibility of an 18F-FDG PET/MRI approach for improved diagnosis of chronic sciatica is presented. Methods:18F-FDG PET/MRI was performed on 9 chronic sciatica patients and 5 healthy volunteers (healthy controls). Region-of-interest analysis using SUVmax was performed, and 18F-FDG uptake in lesions was compared with that in the corresponding areas in healthy controls. Results: Significantly increased 18F-FDG uptake was observed in detected lesions in all patients and was correlated with pain symptoms. 18F-FDG-avid lesions not only were found in impinged spinal nerves but also were associated with nonspinal causes of pain, such as facet joint degeneration, pars defect, or presumed scar neuroma. Conclusion: The feasibility of 18F-FDG PET/MRI for diagnosing pain generators in chronic sciatica was demonstrated, revealing various possible etiologies.

Keywords: 18F-FDG; PET/MRI; pain; sciatica.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimodal Imaging*
  • Pain / complications
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Sciatica / complications
  • Sciatica / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spine / diagnostic imaging*
  • Young Adult


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18