The evidence on atherosclerosis imaging with 18F-sodium-fluoride (NaF) positron emission tomography (PET) is hotly debated because of the different patient characteristics, methodology, vascular beds, etc. in reported studies. This review is a continuation of a previous review on this topic, which covered the period 2010-2018. The purpose was to examine whether some of the most important questions that the previous review had left open had been elucidated by the most recent literature. Using principles of a systematic review, we ended analyzing 25 articles dealing with the carotids, coronary arteries, aorta, femoral, intracranial, renal, and penile arteries. The knowledge thus far can be summarized as follows: by targeting active arterial microcalcification, NaF uptake is considered a marker of early stage atherosclerosis, is age-dependent, and consistently associated with cardiovascular risk. Longitudinal studies on NaF uptake, conducted in the abdominal aorta only, showed unchanged uptake in postmenopausal women for nearly four years and varying uptake in prostate cancer patients over 1.5 years, despite constant or increasing calcium volume detected by computed tomography (CT). Thus, uncertainty remains about the transition from active arterial wall calcification marked by increased NaF uptake to less active or consolidated calcification detected by CT. The question of whether early-phase atherosclerosis and calcification can be modified remains also unanswered due to lack of intervention studies.
- F-18-sodium fluoride