DOI: 10.1007/s00259-017-3639-yPages: 1109-1118

18F-FDG PET reveals unique features of large vessel inflammation in patients with Takayasu’s arteritis

1. IRCCS San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Unit of Nuclear Medicine

2. Vita-Salute San Raffaele University

3. IRCCS San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Unit of Internal Medicine and Clinical Immunology

4. IRCCS San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Department of Radiology

5. Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Vascular Science and Rheumatology

Correspondence to:
Maria Picchio
Tel: +39 02 2643 6117




The object of this study was to assess whether 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose PET/CT (FDG PET/CT) provides novel information in patients with Takayasu’s arteritis (TA) in addition to that provided by current activity assessment, to analyse the effects of possible confounders, such as arterial grafts, and to verify whether PET/CT could be informative in lesions <4 mm thick.


We studied 30 patients with TA, evaluated from October 2010 to April 2014 by both PET/CT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). All arterial lesions were evaluated by PET both qualitatively (positive/negative) and semiquantitatively (maximum standardized uptake value, SUVmax), and the thickness of lesions in the MRI field of view was evaluated. In a per-patient analysis, the relationships between the PET data and acute-phase reactants and NIH criteria for active TA were evaluated. In a per-lesion analysis, the relationships between the PET features of each lesion and MRI morphological data were evaluated. The effects of the presence of arterial grafts were also evaluated.


Increased FDG uptake was seen in 16 of 30 patients (53%) and in 46 of 177 vascular lesions (26%). Significant periprosthetic FDG uptake was seen in 6 of 7 patients (86%) with previous vascular surgery and in 10 of 11 of grafts (91%). Graft-associated uptake influenced the PET results in three patients (10%) and the SUVmax values in five patients (17%). Of 39 lesions with significant FDG uptake, 15 (38%) were <4 mm thick. Lesion thickness was correlated with lesion SUVmax in FDG-avid lesions only. FDG arterial uptake was not associated with systemic inflammation or NIH criteria.


PET/CT reveals unique and fundamental features of arterial involvement in TA. PET/CT may be useful in the assessment of local inflammatory and vascular remodelling events independent of systemic inflammation during follow-up, even in lesions in which the arterial wall is <4 mm. The presence of arterial grafts is a potential confounder. Prospective studies are required to correlate PET findings with relevant clinical outcomes.

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  • Accepted: Jan 25, 2017
  • Online: Feb 8, 2017

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