PET scanning with hydroxyephedrine: an approach to the localization of pheochromocytoma

B L Shulkin, D M Wieland, M Schwaiger, N W Thompson, I R Francis, M S Haka, K C Rosenspire, B Shapiro, J C Sisson, D E Kuhl
Journal of Nuclear Medicine 1992, 33 (6): 1125-31
Pheochromocytomas are potentially curable causes of hypertension. These tumors are currently located by functional imaging with meta-iodobenzylguanidine (MIBG), usually labeled with 131I, or anatomic imaging (computed tomography, magnetic resonance). Hydroxyephedrine (HED) is a newly developed radiotracer that concentrates in adrenergic nerve terminals. When HED is labeled with 11C, its distribution can be mapped in vivo using PET. The purposes of this investigation were to characterize the uptake of 11C-HED in pheochromocytoma and to determine the feasibility and advantages of utilizing this compound as a tumor imaging agent. Ten patients with known or suspected pheochromocytoma were studied. Each patient underwent PET scanning with 11C-HED and conventional scintigraphy with MIBG. Pheochromocytomas were localized by PET scanning in 9 of the 10 patients. Image quality was excellent and superior to that obtained from planar and tomographic MIBG studies. The uptake of 11C-HED into pheochromocytomas was rapid; tumors were evident within 5 min following intravenous injection. All lesions within the field of view that were identified by MIBG scintigraphy were readily apparent. PET scanning with 11C-HED localizes pheochromocytoma using a specifically designed radiotracer and advanced imaging technology. The method has promise for locating the more elusive tumors.

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