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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 135-142

Role of brain perfusion SPECT with 99mTc HMPAO in the assessment of response to drug therapy in patients with autoimmune vasculitis: A prospective study

1 Department of Radiological, Oncological and Anatomo-Pathological Sciences, University of Rome "Sapienza", Rome, Italy
2 Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Section of Neurology, Neuropsychology Outpatients Service, University of Rome "Sapienza", Rome, Italy
3 Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, University of Rome "Sapienza", Rome, Italy
4 Department of Nuclear Medicine, Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital, Rovigo, Italy

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Liberatore Mauro
Dip. di Scienze Radiologiche, Oncologiche ed Anatomo-Patologiche, Policlinico Umberto I, Viale regina Elena, 324, Roma-00161
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1947-2714.156008

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Background: The diagnosis of vasculitis in the brain remains a quite difficult achievement. To the best of our knowledge, there is no imaging method reported in literature which is capable of reaching to a diagnosis of vasculitis with very high sensitivity. Aim: The aim of this study was to determine whether perfusion brain single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) can be usefully employed in monitoring the treatment of vasculitis, allowing treating only potentially responder patients and avoiding the side effects on patients who do not respond. Materials and Methods: Twenty patients (two males and 18 females) suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE; n = 5), Behcet's disease (BD; n = 5), undifferentiated vasculitis (UV; n = 5), and Sjogren's syndrome (SS; n = 5) were included in the study. All patients underwent a wide neurological anamnestic investigation, a complete objective neurological examination and SPECT of the brain with 99mTc-hexamethyl-propylene-aminoxime (HMPAO). The brain SPECT was then repeated after appropriate medical treatment. The neurological and neuropsychiatric follow-up was performed at 6 months after the start of the treatment. Results: Overall, the differences between the scintigraphic results obtained after and before the medical treatment indicated a statistically significant increase of the cerebral perfusion (CP). In 19 out of 200 regions of interest (ROI) studied, the difference between pre- and post treatment percentages had negative sign, indicating a worsening of CP. This latter event has occurred six times (five in the same patients) in the UV, 10 times (eight in the same patients) in the SLE, never in BD, and three times (two in the same patient) in the SS. Conclusion: The reported results seem to indicate the possibility of identifying, by the means of a brain SPECT, responder and nonresponder (unchanged or worsened CP) patients, affected by autoimmune vasculitis, to the therapy.

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