Positron emission tomography with 18F-FDG in the evaluation of patients with rheumatoid arthritis - a systematic review

Dalton Alexandre dos Anjos Licia Maria Henrique da Mota About the authors


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease characterized by inflammation of the synovial membrane. Several authors have investigated the role of positron emission tomography (PET) with fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) in RA.


To systematically review the current literature on the role of 18F-FDG PET in the diagnosis, determination of disease activity and assessment of treatment response in patients with RA.


Searches were conducted in Medline, Cochrane Library, Lilacs, Pubmed and Scopus in Portuguese, English and Spanish languages, using the keywords «rheumatoid arthritis», «synovitis», «FDG», «PET», «glycolytic metabolism» and «disease activity».


One hundred and forty-two articles were initially identified, of which only 40 were related directly to the subject. Twelve original articles and three case reports that met the inclusion criteria were selected.


The presence of activated macrophages and fibroblasts in pannus are responsible for the intense periarticular uptake of 18F-FDG. The uptake patterns do not allow the differential diagnosis with other arthritides. The uptake intensity and the number of joints involved are metabolic parameters of disease activity that correlate well with the composite indices. Longitudinal studies of PET have proven useful in assessing the response to treatment with anti-TNF. When performed early, PET can predict the therapeutic response.


Although the actual role of this new technique for the investigation of RA is not yet established, 18F-FDG PET is a promising tool in determining the activity and prediction of response to treatment of patients with RA.

Positron emission tomography (PET); Fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG); Rheumatoid arthritis

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