Positron emission tomography/computed tomography detection of increased 18 F-fluorodeoxyglucose uptake in the cardiac atria of patients with atrial fibrillation

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Abstract

Background: Direct evidence of inflammatory activity in the atria of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) is scarce. We assessed the capability of positron-emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) to diagnose AF based on fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake in the atrial wall. Methods and results: Among 8233 patients who underwent FDG-PET/CT as work-up for malignancies, we identified 180 consecutive patients with AF (2.2%). Of those, we selected 137 patients who had fasted >12 h before FDG injection for inclusion in the experimental group (88 men and 49 women; age: 72.7 ± 8.9 years). Controls were 62 age- and sex-matched patients without AF. For visual analysis, we used a 4-point grading system. For quantitative analysis, we used the maximum standard uptake value (SUVmax) in the left (LA) and right atrial (RA) myocardium and the target-to-background ratio (TBR) of SUVmax to blood pool activity. The sensitivity, specificity, and positive-predictive value for detecting AF visually were 54.0%, 95.2%, and 96.1%, respectively; for quantitative analysis, the respective values were 65.7%, 75.8%, and 85.7%. Multivariable analysis of 11 clinical and imaging variables showed significant associations with RA SUVmax (odds ratio [OR]: 14.353, P = 0.026) and LA volume (OR: 1.371, P = 0.0001). The RA TBR was greater in cases with persistent AF than in those with paroxysmal AF (P < 0.0001). Pathological investigation of 4 autopsy hearts confirmed infiltration of extravascular macrophages and lymphocytes in the regions with FDG uptake. Conclusions: Higher atrial FDG uptake was associated with AF. PET/CT could be a useful tool for detecting local inflammation in the atria with AF.

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Watanabe, E., Miyagawa, M., Uetani, T., Kinoshita, M., Kitazawa, R., Kurata, M., … Mochizuki, T. (2019). Positron emission tomography/computed tomography detection of increased 18 F-fluorodeoxyglucose uptake in the cardiac atria of patients with atrial fibrillation. International Journal of Cardiology, 283, 171–177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcard.2018.10.106

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