Validation of FDG uptake in the arterial wall as an imaging biomarker of atherosclerotic plaques with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography-computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT)

Monica Bucci, Carina Mari Aparici, Randy Hawkins, Steve Bacharach, Carole Schrek, Suchun Cheng, Elizabeth Tong, Sandeep Arora, Eugenio Parati, Max Wintermark
Journal of Neuroimaging: Official Journal of the American Society of Neuroimaging 2014, 24 (2): 117-23

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: From the literature, the prevalence of fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake in large artery atherosclerotic plaques shows great heterogeneity. We retrospectively reviewed 100 consecutive patients who underwent FDG-positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET/CT) imaging of their whole body, to evaluate FDG uptake in the arterial wall.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively evaluated 100 whole-body PET-CT scans. The PET images coregistered with CT were reviewed for abnormal 18F-FDG uptake. The mean standard uptake value (SUV) was measured in regions of interest (ROIs). The prevalence of PET+ plaques was determined based on the qualitative PET review, used as the gold standard in a receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis to determine an optimal threshold for the quantitative PET analysis.

RESULTS: The qualitative, visual assessment demonstrated FDG uptake in the arterial walls of 26 patients. A total of 85 slices exhibited FDG uptake within the arterial wall of 37 artery locations. 11, 17, and 2 patients exhibited FDG uptake within the wall of carotid arteries, of the aorta, and of the iliac arteries, respectively. Only 4 of the 26 patients had positive FDG uptake in more than one artery location. In terms of quantitative analysis, a threshold of 2.8 SUV was associated with a negative predictive value of 99.4% and a positive predictive value of 100% to predict qualitative PET+ plaques. A threshold of 1.8 SUV was associated with a negative predictive value of 100% and a positive predictive value of 99.4%. Area under the ROC curve was .839.

CONCLUSION: The prevalence of PET uptake in arterial walls in a consecutive population of asymptomatic patients is low and usually confined to one type of artery, and its clinical relevance in terms of vulnerability to ischemic events remains to be determined.

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