Background: 18F-NaF positron emission tomography (PET) targets microcalcifications. We compared in vitro microPET assessed 18F-NaF uptake between culprit and non-culprit human carotid plaques. Furthermore, we compared 18F-NaF uptake with calcification visualized on microcomputed tomography (microCT).
Methods: Carotid plaques from stroke patients undergoing surgery were incubated in 18F-NaF and scanned using a microPET and a microCT scan. The average PET assessed 18F-NaF uptake was expressed as percentage of the incubation dose per gram (%Inc/g). 18F-NaF PET volume of interest (VOI) was compared with CT calcification VOI.
Results: 23 carotid plaques (17 culprit, 6 non-culprit) were included. The average 18F-NaF uptake in culprit carotid plaques was comparable with the uptake in non-culprit carotid plaques (median 2.32 %Inc/g [IQR 1.98 to 2.81] vs. median 2.35 %Inc/g [IQR 1.77 to 3.00], P = 0.916). Only a median of 10% (IQR 4 to 25) of CT calcification VOI showed increased 18F-NaF uptake, while merely a median of 35% (IQR 6 to 42) of 18F-NaF PET VOI showed calcification on CT.
Conclusions: 18F-NaF PET represents a different stage in the calcification process than CT. We observed a similar PET assessed 18F-NaF uptake and pattern in culprit and non-culprit plaques of high-risk patients, indicating that this method may be of more value in early atherosclerotic stenosis development.
- F-sodium fluoride (F-NaF)
- Carotid artery stenosis
- PET/CT imaging
- Vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque