This study's objective was to compare (18)F-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography ((18)F-FDG PET), CT, and MRI of carotid plaque assessment.
Fifty patients with symptomatic carotid atherosclerosis underwent (18)F-FDG PET/CT and MRI. Correlations and agreement between imaging findings were assessed by Spearman and Pearson rank correlation tests, t tests, and Bland-Altman plots.
Spearman rho between plaque (18)F-FDG standard uptake values and CT/MRI findings varied from -0.088 to 0.385. Maximum standard uptake value was significantly larger in plaques with intraplaque hemorrhage (1.56 vs 1.47; P=0.032). Standard uptake values did not significantly differ between plaques with an intact and thick fibrous cap and plaques with a thin or ruptured fibrous cap on MRI. (1.21 vs 1.23; P=0.323; and 1.45 vs 1.54; P=0.727). Pearson rho between CT and MRI measurements varied from 0.554 to 0.794 (P<0.001). For lipid-rich necrotic core volume, the CT-MRI correlation was stronger in mildly (10%) calcified plaques (Pearson rho 0.730 vs 0.475). Mean difference in measurement +/-95% limits of agreement between CT and MRI for minimum lumen area, volumes of vessel wall, lipid-rich necrotic core, calcifications, and fibrous tissue were 0.4+/-18.1 mm(2) (P=0.744), -41.9 +/-761.7 mm(3) (P=0.450), 78.4+/-305.0 mm(3) (P<0.001), 180.5+/-625.7 mm(3) (P=0.001), and -296.0+/-415.8 mm(3) (P<0.001), respectively.
Overall, correlations between (18)F-FDG PET and CT/MRI findings are weak. Correlations between CT and MRI measurements are moderate to strong, but there is considerable variation in absolute differences.