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Clinical Utility of Multi-Energy Spectral Photon-Counting Computed Tomography in Crystal Arthritis.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether novel multi-energy spectral photon-counting computed tomography (SPCCT) imaging can detect and differentiate between monosodium urate (MSU), calcium pyrophosphate (CPP), and hydroxyapatite (HA) crystal deposits ex vivo.

METHODS: A finger with a subcutaneous gouty tophus and a calcified knee meniscus excised at the time of surgery were obtained. The finger was imaged using plain x-ray, dual-energy CT (DECT), and multi-energy SPCCT. Plain x-ray and multi-energy SPCCT images of the meniscus were acquired. For validation purposes, samples of the crystals were obtained from the tophus and meniscus, and examined by polarized light microscopy and/or x-ray diffraction. As further validation, synthetic crystal suspensions of MSU, CPP, and HA were scanned using multi-energy SPCCT.

RESULTS: Plain x-ray of the gouty finger revealed bone erosions with overhanging edges. DECT and multi-energy SPCCT both showed MSU crystal deposits; SPCCT was able to show finer detail. Plain x-ray of the calcified meniscus showed chondrocalcinosis consistent with CPP, while SPCCT showed and differentiated CPP and HA.

CONCLUSION: Multi-energy SPCCT can not only detect, differentiate, and quantify MSU crystal deposits in a gouty finger ex vivo, but also specifically detect, identify, and quantify CPP within an osteoarthritic meniscus, and distinguish them from HA crystal deposits. There is potential for multi-energy SPCCT to become useful in the diagnosis of crystal arthropathies.

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