The clinical utility of fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography for investigation of fever in immunocompromised children

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Abstract

Aim

Fever in immunocompromised children presents significant challenges. We aimed to determine the clinical impact of fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) in combination with computed tomography (CT) in children with malignancy or following haematopoietic stem cell transplantation with prolonged or recurrent fever.

Methods

Immunocompromised children who underwent FDG-PET/CT for investigation of prolonged or recurrent fever were identified from hospital databases. The clinical impact of the FDG-PET/CT was considered ‘high’ if it contributed to any of the following: diagnosis of a new site infection/inflammation, change to antimicrobials or chemotherapy, or additional investigations or specialist consult contributing to final diagnosis.

Results

Fourteen patients underwent an FDG-PET/CT for prolonged or recurrent fever. Median age was 11 years and 46% had diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The median absolute neutrophil count on the day of FDG-PET/CT was 0.47 cells/μL. The clinical impact of FDG-PET/CT was ‘high’ in 11 (79%) patients, contributing to rationalisation of antimicrobials in three, and cessation of antimicrobials in five. Compared to conventional imaging, FDG PET/CT identified seven additional sites of clinically significant infection/inflammation in seven patients. Of the 10 patients who had a cause of fever identified, FDG-PET/CT contributed to the final diagnosis in six (60%).

Conclusion

This study has identified potential utility for FDG-PET/CT in immunocompromised children with prolonged or recurrent fever. Further prospective studies are needed to compare FDG-PET/CT versus conventional imaging, to identify the optimal timing of FDG-PET/CT and to study the role of subsequent scans to monitor response to therapy.

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