Diagnostic value of [18F]FDG-PET/CT in polymyalgia rheumatica: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2021 Jun;48(6):1876-1889. doi: 10.1007/s00259-020-05162-6. Epub 2020 Dec 28.


Purpose: Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) can be difficult to diagnose. Whole-body [18F]FDG-PET/CT allows for a comprehensive evaluation of all relevant articular and extra-articular structures affected by PMR. We aimed to summarize current evidence on the diagnostic value of [18F]FDG-PET/CT for a diagnosis of PMR.

Methods: PubMed/MEDLINE and the Cochrane Library database were searched from inception through May 31, 2020. Studies containing patients with PMR who underwent [18F]FDG-PET/CT were included. Screening and full-text review were performed by 3 investigators and data extraction by 2 investigators. Risk of bias was examined with the QUADAS-2 tool. Diagnostic test meta-analysis was performed with a bivariate model.

Results: Twenty studies were included in the systematic review, of which 9 studies (n = 636 patients) were eligible for meta-analysis. [18F]FDG positivity at the following sites was associated with a diagnosis of PMR: interspinous bursae (positive likelihood ratio (LR+) 4.00; 95% CI 1.84-8.71), hips (LR+ 2.91; 95% CI 2.09-4.05), ischial tuberosities (LR+ 2.86; 95% CI 1.91-4.28), shoulders (LR+ 2.57; 95% CI 1.24-5.32) and sternoclavicular joints (LR+ 2.31; 95% CI 1.33-4.02). Negative likelihood ratios (LR-) for these sites, as well as the greater trochanters, were all less than 0.50. Composite [18F]FDG-PET/CT scores, as reported in 3 studies, provided a pooled LR+ of 3.91 (95% CI 2.42-6.32) and LR- of 0.19 (95% CI 0.10-0.36). Moderate to high heterogeneity was observed across the studies, mainly due to differences in patient selection, scanning procedures and/or interpretation criteria.

Conclusion: Significant [18F]FDG uptake at a combination of anatomic sites is informative for a diagnosis of PMR. [18F]FDG-PET/CT might be an important diagnostic tool in patients with suspected PMR. This study also highlights the need for adherence to published procedural recommendations and standardized interpretation criteria for the use of [18F]FDG-PET/CT in PMR.

Keywords: Fluorodeoxyglucose F18; Meta-analysis; Polymyalgia rheumatica; Positron emission tomography/computed tomography; Review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Giant Cell Arteritis*
  • Humans
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica* / diagnostic imaging
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Radiopharmaceuticals


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18