Outcome of small lung nodules missed on hybrid PET/MRI in patients with primary malignancy

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To assess outcomes of lung nodules missed on simultaneous positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (PET/MRI) compared to the reference standard PET and computed tomography (PET/CT) in patients with primary malignancy.

Materials and Methods:

In all, 208 patients with primary malignancy undergoing clinically indicated (18F) fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET/CT followed by PET/MRI were independently reviewed by two readers. Upon review of the thoracic station on PET/MRI and PET/CT, 89 non-FDG avid small lung nodules in 43 patients were detected (by reader 1) only on the CT component of the PET/CT but were not identified on PET/MRI. Overall, 84 of these 89 nodules were examined on follow-up imaging with PET/CT or chest CT. The remaining five nodules had no follow-up imaging but had remote imaging available for comparison.


Among the 84 nodules with follow-up, three nodules (3%) in one patient progressed, 10 (12%) nodules partially/completely resolved, whereas 71 nodules (85%) remained stable. The five nodules without follow-up were all stable since prior imaging of over 21 months.


The vast majority (97%) of small non-FDG avid lung nodules missed on PET/MRI either resolved or remained stable on follow-up, suggestive of benignity. PET/MRI remains a viable alternative imaging modality in oncology patients, despite its low sensitivity in detecting small lung nodules. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2016;43:504–511.

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