FDG PET/CT: Artifacts and Pitfalls

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Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET)/CT is performed commonly for evaluation of malignancy, because it provides valuable physiologic information and anatomic data. Artifacts present on PET/CT include those from both the PET and CT portions of the examination. Additional artifacts related to the examination's dual acquisition technique and associated process of PET attenuation correction lead to distinct interpretation challenges not encountered elsewhere in diagnostic radiology. Because of these unique artifacts, the information obtained during PET/CT may be misinterpreted, leading to false-positive or false-negative examination results. Less commonly, these artifacts may be severe enough to render the examination nondiagnostic and require a repeat examination. The goal of this article is to assist diagnostic radiologists with the identification and more importantly the prevention of common artifacts and pitfalls observed in FDG PET/CT.

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