Differentiating Benign from Malignant Lung Lesions Using “Quantitative” Parameters of FDG PET Images

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Fluorine-18 labeled deoxyglucose positron-emission tomography (FDG-PET) applications in oncology include the differential diagnosis of chest masses and single pulmonary nodules. However, FDG is not tumor-specific; rather, it also accumulates in inflammatory processes. This study was performed to identify image parameters that would improve the specificity of PET. Methods: Twenty-six patients who had benign and malignant lung lesions were examined retrospectively. Positron-emission tomography data were acquired in dynamic scanning mode after intravenous bolus of 250-402 MBq of FDG. Standardized uptake values (SUVs) were calculated and Patlak analyses were performed in selected regions of interest in the PET images. Positron-emission tomography results were related to histological diagnosis (N = 49) or clinical follow-up (N = 3). Results: The specificity and sensitivity of the original PET scan reports, which was based on visual image interpretation and loosely applied SUVs, was 100% respectively. Using the SUVs with a cut-off value of 3.8 and Kpat value with a cut-off at 0.025 min-1 improved the specificity to 81% and 85%. Conclusion: FDG-PET image interpretation can be facilitated by using SUV information or the accumulation rate of the radiotracer (Patlak). With additional validation, this method could have a significant cost-effective impact on the medical/surgical management of chest masses.

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