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23.02.2020 | Original Article

Abnormalities at three musculoskeletal sites on whole-body positron emission tomography/computed tomography can diagnose polymyalgia rheumatica with high sensitivity and specificity

European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Claire E. Owen, Aurora M. T. Poon, Victor Yang, Christopher McMaster, Sze Ting Lee, David F. L. Liew, Jessica L. Leung, Andrew M. Scott, Russell R. C. Buchanan
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00259-020-04731-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
This article is part of the Topical Collection on Infection and inflammation

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To evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of PET/CT findings in PMR and generate a diagnostic algorithm utilizing a minimum number of musculoskeletal sites.


Steroid-naïve patients with newly diagnosed PMR (2012 EULAR/ACR classification criteria) were prospectively recruited to undergo whole-body 18FFDG PET/CT. Each PMR case was age- and sex-matched to four PET/CT controls. Control scan indication, diagnosis and medical history were extracted from the clinical record. Qualitative and semi-quantitative scoring (maximum standardized uptake value [SUVmax]) of abnormal 18F-FDG uptake at 21 musculoskeletal sites was undertaken for cases and controls. Results informed the development of a novel PET/CT diagnostic algorithm using a classification and regression trees (CART) method.


Thirty-three cases met the inclusion criteria and were matched to 132 controls. Mean age was 68.6 ± 7.4 years for cases compared with 68.2 ± 7.3 for controls, and 54.5% were male. Median CRP was 49 mg/L (32–65) and ESR 41.5 mm/h (24.6–64.4) in the PMR group. The predominant control indication for PET/CT was malignancy (63.6%). Individual musculoskeletal sites proved insufficient for diagnostic purposes. A novel algorithm comprising 18F-FDG uptake ≥ 2 adjacent to the ischial tuberosities in combination with either abnormalities at the peri-articular shoulder or interspinous bursa achieved a sensitivity of 90.9% and specificity of 92.4% for diagnosing PMR.


The presence of abnormal 18F-FDG uptake adjacent to the ischial tuberosities together with findings at the peri-articular shoulder or interspinous bursa on whole-body PET/CT is highly sensitive and specific for a diagnosis of PMR.

Trial registration

Clinical Trial Registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, http://​www.​anzctr.​org.​au, ACTRN1261400696695

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