Brain Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography Scan (SPECT) and Functional MRI in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Patients with Cognitive Dysfunction: A Systematic Review

Document Type: Review article


1 Rheumatic Diseases Research Center, School of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of Radiology, School of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences; Mashhad, Iran


Objective(s): Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with a wide range of clinical manifestations. Cognitive dysfunction is one of the manifestations that could present prior to the emergence of any other neuropsychiatric involvements in SLE. Cognitive dysfunction is a subtle condition occurring with a
high frequency. However, there is no data on the correlation of cognitive dysfunction with central nervous system (CNS) imaging findings, in particular single-photon emission computed tomography scan (SPECT) and functional MRI. We decided to perform a systematic review of brain SPECT and fMRI in SLE patients with cognitive dysfunction.
Methods: PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases were searched until April 2017 with the following keywords: “SLE OR systemic lupus erythematous OR lupus” AND “functional MRI OR functional magnetic resonance imaging OR fMRI OR SPECT or SCAN”. A total of 1,767articles were found. Two rheumatologists
reviewed the articles and finally 14 articles were selected for the final systematic review.
Results: The fMRI and SPECT imaging techniques could provide valuable information regarding the SLE patients with cognitive dysfunction at the early stages of the disease.
Conclusion: Brain SPECT scan and fMRI are used as functional imaging tools in SLE. Both of these diagnostic modalities are sensitive in reflecting the subtle brain damages in SLE patients with cognitive dysfunction. Brain fMRI and SPECT scan could be significantly beneficial in the diagnosis and initial management of cognitive dysfunction in SLE. Nevertheless, prospective studies could be useful in confirming the application of these diagnostic modalities in the clinical setting.


Main Subjects

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