, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 17-24

Brain single-photon emission tomography with99mTc-HMPAO in neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus: relations with EEG and MRI findings and clinical manifestations

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Central nervous system (CNS) involvement in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is often difficult to evaluate because of protean neuropsychiatric (NP) manifestations and lack of reliable diagnostic markers. In the reported study the role of single-photon emission tomography (SPET) with technetium-99m hexamethylpropylene amine oxime (HMPAO) in the evaluation of CNS involvement in SLE was assessed and the relations between SPET perfusion defects, EEG examination, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings and clinical presentation were examined. Twenty SLE patients with different NP manifestations were studied. Multiple areas of hypoperfusion, especially in the territory of the middle cerebral artery, were demonstrated by SPET analysis in all 20 patients. The number of hypoperfused areas and the degree of were more marked in patients with multiple NP manifestations. MRI and EEG evaluations were positive for 14 of 18 and for 12 of 20 patients, respectively. In the patients with positive SPET and MRI, 87 MRI focal lesions and 63 hypoperfused areas were found, and for 51 of these 63 at least one MRI lesion was found in the same anatomical region. SPET examination of patients with a normal EEG showed fewer hypoperfused areas and a lower degree of asymmetry compared to patients with an abnormal EEG. SPET of patients with focal EEG abnormalities showed more hypoperfused areas (difference not statistically significant) and a higher AI than did SPET of the patients with diffuse EEG abnormalities. Seven of 11 anatomical regions with focal EEG abnormalities. Seven of 11 anatomical regions with focal EEG abnormalities had co-localized hypoperfused areas and in two of these seven no detectable MRI lesions were found. The analysis of SPET and NP manifestations showed that 12 of 20 patients had at least one positive correlation, always involving the areas with the highest AI. In total, 51/88 (58%) hypoperfused areas correlated with the MRI findings and 31/88 (35%) with NP manifestations; for seven of the latter no concurrent MRI lesions were detected in the same anatomical region. It is concluded that SPET study of brain perfusion is a sensitive method for the evaluation of CNS involvement in SLE; furthermore, it is able to reveal disease progression and the lesions most relevant at the time of evaluation, and can objectify those NP manifestations without detectable MRI abnormalities. Nevertheless, because of the sensitivity of MRI in detecting morphological lesions, a complete evaluation of CNS involvement should be performed, combining SPET with MRI.