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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 85-90

18F-sodium fluoride PET-CT hybrid imaging of the lumbar facet joints: Tracer uptake and degree of correlation to CT-graded arthropathy

Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA

Correspondence Address:
Marc C Mabray
505 Parnassus Ave M391, San Francisco - 94143, California
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DOI: 10.4103/1450-1147.174698

PMID: 27134557

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We aim to evaluate 18F-NaF uptake by facet joints with hybrid PET-CT technique. Specifically, we evaluate NaF uptake in the facet joints of the lower lumbar spine, and correlate with the morphologic grade of facet arthropathy on CT. 30 consecutive patients who underwent standard vertex to toes NaF PET-CT for re-staging of primary neoplastic disease without measurable or documented bony metastases were identified. Maximum (SUVmax) and average (SUVavg) standardized uptake values were calculated for each L3-4, L4-5, and L5-S1 facet joint (n = 180) and normalized to average uptake in the non-diseased femur. A Pathria grade (0-3) was assigned to each facet based upon the CT morphology. Spearman's rank correlation was performed for normalized SUVmax and SUVavg with Pathria grade. ANOVA was performed with Tukey-Kramer pairwise tests to evaluate differences in uptake between Pathria groups. Facet normalized SUVmax (r = 0.31, P < 0.001) and SUVavg (r = 0.28, P < 0.001) demonstrated a mild positive correlation with CT Pathria grade. There was a wide range of uptake values within each Pathria grade subgroup with statistically significant differences in uptake only between Pathria grade 3 as compared to grades 0, 1, and 2. In conclusion, NaF uptake and morphologic changes of the facet joint on CT are weakly correlated. Physiologic information provided by NaF uptake is often discrepant with structural findings on CT suggesting NaF PET may supplement conventional structural imaging for identification of pain generating facet joints. Prospective investigation into the relationship of facet joint NaF uptake with pain and response to pain interventions is warranted.

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