FDG PET-CT combined with TBNA for the diagnosis of atypical relapsing polychondritis: report of 2 cases and a literature review

Wei Lei, Da-Xiong Zeng, Tao Chen, Jun-Hong Jiang, Chang-Guo Wang, Ye-Han Zhu, Jian-An Huang


Objective: To explore the value of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography-computed tomography (FDG PET-CT) combined with transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA) in diagnosing atypical relapsing polychondritis (RP).
Methods: Data from two patients with atypical RP, which had been diagnosed in our hospital using FDG PET-CT combined with TBNA, were retrospectively analyzed. A review of the relevant literature was also performed.
Results: Consistent with the previously reported 20 cases of RP that had been diagnosed using FDG PETCT, the two patients in the present study showed the involvement of multiple organs, including the nose, throat, trachea, bronchi, costicartilage and joint cartilages, and increased FDG uptake was found in these areas. The mean value of SUVmax was 5.14. PET-CT revealed that 86.4% of the patients with RP had airway involvement. TBNA technique was used for biopsy of the hypermetabolic lesions, and pathologic examinations confirmed the diagnosis of RP. The time to diagnosis in these two patients and the 20 cases reported previously was about 6.9 months, significantly shorter than the average diagnosis time (20 months).
Conclusions: FDG PET-CT has several advantages for diagnosing RP, especially atypical RP. TBNA is a minimally invasive and safe technique for obtaining airway cartilage. Combining PET-CT with TBNA may play an important role in shortening the time to diagnosis in patients with RP involvement of airway.