18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography in Elderly Patients with an Elevated Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate of Unknown Origin

K.D.F. Lensen, A.E. Voskuyl, C.J. van der Laken, E.F.I. Comans, D. van Schaardenburg, A.B. Arntzenius, T. Zwijnenburg, F. Stam, M. Gompelman, F.M. van der Zant, A.Q.A. van Paassen, B.J. Voerman, F. Smit, S. Anten, C.E. Siegert, A. Binnerts, Y.M. Smulders

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Patients with an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and non-specific symptoms often pose a diagnostic dilemma. PET/CT visualises infection, inflammation and malignancy, all of which may cause elevated ESR. The objective of this study was to determine the contribution of 18F-fluorodeoxglucose positron emission tomography (PET/CT) in the diagnostic work-up of referred patients with an elevated ESR, in whom initial routine evaluation did not reveal a diagnosis. We conducted a combined retrospective (A) and prospective (B) study in elderly (>50 years) patients with a significantly elevated ESR of≥50 mm/h and non-specific complaints. In study A, 30 patients were included. Malignancy (8 patients), auto-inflammatory disease (8 patients, including 5 with large-vessel vasculitis) and infection (3 patients) were suggested by PET/CT. Two scans showed non-specific abnormalities and 9 scans were normal. Of the 21 abnormal PET/CT results, 12 diagnoses were independently confirmed and two alternative diagnosis were made. Two diagnoses were established in patients with a normal scan. In study B, 58 patients in whom a prior protocolised work-up was non-diagnostic, were included. Of these, 25 PET/CT-scans showed suspected auto-inflammatory disease, particularly large-vessel vasculitis (14 cases). Infection and malignancy was suspected in 5 and 3 cases, respectively. Seven scans demonstrated non-specific abnormalities, 20 were normal. Of the 40 abnormal PET/CT results, 22 diagnoses were confirmed, 3 alternative diagnoses were established. Only one diagnosis was established in the 20 patients with a normal scan. In both studies, the final diagnosis was based on histology, clinical follow-up, response to therapy or additional imaging. In conclusion, PET/CT may be of potential value in the diagnostic work-up of patients with elevated ESR if routine evaluation reveals no diagnosis. In particular, large-vessel vasculitis appears to be a common finding. A normal PET/CT scan in these patients suggests that it is safe to follow a wait-and-see policy. © 2013 Lensen et al.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere58917
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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