Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is the most common vasculitis affecting medium and large vessels. It shows a close clinical association with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), a musculoskeletal inflammatory disorder, which is clinically characterized by girdles pain and stiffness. 18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) is an effective tool for the diagnosis, grading, and follow-up of patients affected by GCA involving the aorta and its proximal branches, but the lack of a standardized method for the assessment of vascular inflammation remains a critical issue, potentially leading to misclassification. In our systematic review, including 19 original articles for a total of 442 GCA patients (with or without PMR symptoms) and 535 healthy controls, we described the different qualitative, semiquantitative and combined methods that have been proposed throughout the literature for assessing the presence and grading the severity of GCA-related vascular inflammation on 18F-FDG PET scans, focusing on the diagnostic performance and examining their respective advantages and limitations. The majority of the included studies adopted qualitative methods of PET image analysis, which are less sensitive but more specific than semiquantitative ones. Among the semiquantitative approaches, the aortic-to-blood pool uptake ratio of the aortic arch seems to be the most accurate method.
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