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Clinical Observation
April 9, 2001

Fludeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography in the Diagnosis of Giant Cell Arteritis

Author Affiliations

From the Nuclear Medicine Service (Drs Turlakow, Yeung, Macapinlac, and Larson) and the Departments of Pathology (Dr Pui), Surgery (Dr Rusch), and Hematology (Dr Goy), Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY; and the Department of Rheumatology, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Cornell Campus, New York (Dr Liebovitz).

Arch Intern Med. 2001;161(7):1003-1007. doi:10.1001/archinte.161.7.1003

We describe a case in which fludeoxyglucose F 18 positron emission tomography (PET) led directly to the diagnosis of giant cell arteritis in an elderly woman with a fever of unknown origin.The patient presented with a 3-month history of fatigue, fever, headache, visual disturbance, jaw claudication, and anemia. A computed tomographic scan showed an anterior mediastinal mass that was suspected of being malignant. A fludeoxyglucose F 18 PET scan performed for preoperative evaluation identified striking uptake of fludeoxyglucose F 18 in the walls of the entire aorta, left main coronary artery, and subclavian, carotid, and common iliac arteries bilaterally, suggestive of an arteritis, a diagnosis subsequently confirmed by the findings of an arterial biopsy. Her erythrocyte sedimentation rate was 129 mm/h. There was normalizaton of the PET scan 2 weeks following treatment with prednisolone. This case suggests that fludeoxyglucose F 18 PET contributes to the noninvasive diagnosis of giant cell arteritis, as well as to the evaluation of the extent of disease, response to therapy, and disease recurrence.