Total-Body 18F-FDG PET/CT in Autoimmune Inflammatory Arthritis at Ultra-Low Dose: Initial Observations

J Nucl Med. 2022 Oct;63(10):1579-1585. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.121.263774. Epub 2022 May 19.


Autoimmune inflammatory arthritides (AIA), such as psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, are chronic systemic conditions that affect multiple joints of the body. Recently, total-body (TB) PET/CT scanners exhibiting superior technical characteristics (total-body coverage, geometric sensitivity) that could benefit AIA evaluation, compared with conventional PET/CT systems, have become available. The objectives of this work were to assess the performance of an ultra-low-dose, 18F-FDG TB PET/CT acquisition protocol for evaluating systemic joint involvement in AIA and to report the association of TB PET/CT measures with joint-by-joint rheumatologic examination and standardized rheumatologic outcome measures. Methods: Thirty participants (24 with AIA and 6 with osteoarthritis) were prospectively enrolled in this single-center, observational study. All participants underwent a TB PET/CT scan for 20 min starting at 40 min after intravenous injection of 78.1 ± 4.7 MBq of 18F-FDG. Qualitative and quantitative evaluation of 18F-FDG uptake and joint involvement were performed from the resulting images and compared with the rheumatologic assessments. Results: TB PET/CT enabled the visualization of 18F-FDG uptake at joints of the entire body, including those of the hands and feet, in a single bed position, and in the same phase of radiotracer uptake. A range of pathologies consistent with AIA (and non-AIA in the osteoarthritis group) were visualized, and the feasibility of extracting PET measures from joints examined by rheumatologic assessments was demonstrated. Of 1,997 evaluable joints, there was concordance between TB PET qualitative assessments and joint-by-joint rheumatologic evaluation in the AIA and non-AIA cohorts for 69.9% and 91.1% joints, respectively, and an additional 20.1% and 8.8% joints, respectively, deemed negative on rheumatologic examination showed PET positivity. On the other hand, 10.0% and 0% joints in the AIA and non-AIA cohorts, respectively, were positive on rheumatologic evaluation but negative on TB PET. Quantitative measures from TB PET in the AIA cohort demonstrated a moderate-to-strong correlation (Spearman ρ = 0.53-0.70, P < 0.05) with the rheumatologic outcome measures. Conclusion: Systemic joint evaluation in AIA (and non-AIA) is feasible with a TB PET/CT system and an ultra-low-dose protocol. Our results provide the foundation for future larger studies to evaluate the possible improvements in AIA joint assessment via the TB PET/CT technology.

Keywords: autoimmune arthritis; osteoarthritis; psoriatic arthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; total-body PET/CT.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / diagnostic imaging
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / pathology
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography / methods
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18