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Hybrid PET/MRI of large vessel vasculitis : Radiation dose compared to PET/CT with view on cumulative effective dose.

BACKGROUND: The diagnosis of large vessel vasculitis (LVV) is often challenging due to the various clinical appearances and the low prevalence. Hybrid imaging by positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT) is a highly relevant imaging modality for diagnostics and disease surveillance but may be associated with a significant amount of radiation dose especially in patients with complications.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this retrospective analysis was to compare the image quality and impact of hybrid imaging methods PET/CT and PET/MRI on the potential for dose reduction.

METHODS: This retrospective single-center study included a cohort of 32 patients who were referred to PET/MRI for the evaluation of LVV, including graft infections and fever of unknown origin. This cohort was compared to a similar cohort of 37 patients who were examined with PET/CT in the same period. Mean radiation dose as well as image quality to establish a diagnosis were compared between the groups.

RESULTS: The mean radiation dose applied in PET/MRI was significantly lower when compared to PET/CT (mean 6.6 mSV vs. 31.7 mSV; p < 0.001). This effect was based on the partially multiphasic CT protocols. At the same time, diagnostic image quality using a 4-point scale showed similar results for both imaging modalities in the work-up of LVV.

CONCLUSION: With PET/MRI, the radiation exposure can be significantly reduced with similar image quality and diagnostic impact. Patients with LVV have a higher risk of receiving a clinically relevant cumulative effective dose (CED) and PET/MRI should be made available to them.

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