Accuracy of PET for diagnosis of solid pulmonary lesions with 18F-FDG uptake below the standardized uptake value of 2.5

Yaichiro Hashimoto, Tetsuya Tsujikawa, Chisato Kondo, Masako Maki, Mitsuru Momose, Atsushi Nagai, Takamasa Ohnuki, Toshio Nishikawa, Kiyoko Kusakabe
Journal of Nuclear Medicine 2006, 47 (3): 426-31

UNLABELLED: Benign and malignant pulmonary lesions usually are differentiated by 18F-FDG PET with a semiquantitative 18F-FDG standardized uptake value (SUV) of 2.5. However, the frequency of malignancies with an SUV of <2.5 is significant, and pulmonary nodules with low 18F-FDG uptake often present diagnostic challenges.

METHODS: Among 360 consecutive patients who underwent 18F-FDG PET to evaluate pulmonary nodules found on CT, we retrospectively analyzed 43 who had solid pulmonary lesions (excluding lesions with ground-glass opacity, infiltration, or benign calcification) with an SUV of <2.5. The uptake of 18F-FDG was graded by a visual method (absent, faint, moderate, or intense) and 2 semiquantitative methods (SUV and contrast ratio [CR]). Final classification was based on histopathologic findings or at least 6 mo of clinical follow-up.

RESULTS: We found 16 malignant (diameter, 8-32 mm) and 27 benign (7-36 mm) lesions. When faint visual uptake was the cutoff for positive 18F-FDG PET results, the receiver-operating-characteristic (ROC) analysis correctly identified all 16 malignancies and yielded false-positive results for 10 of 27 benign lesions. Sensitivity was 100%, specificity was 63%, and the positive and negative predictive values were 62% and 100%, respectively. When an SUV of 1.59 was the cutoff for positive 18F-FDG PET results, the ROC analysis revealed 81% sensitivity, 85% specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of 77% and 89%, respectively. At a cutoff for positive 18F-FDG PET results of a CR of 0.29, the ROC analysis revealed 75% sensitivity, 82% specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of 71% and 85%, respectively. The areas under the curve in ROC analyses did not differ significantly among the 3 analyses (visual, 0.84; SUV, 0.81; and CR, 0.82). Analyses of intra- and interobserver variabilities indicated that visual and SUV analyses were quite reproducible, whereas CR analysis was poorly reproducible.

CONCLUSION: These results suggested that for solid pulmonary lesions with low 18F-FDG uptake, semiquantitative approaches do not improve the accuracy of 18F-FDG PET over that obtained with visual analysis. Pulmonary lesions with visually absent uptake indicate that the probability of malignancies is very low. In contrast, the probability of malignancy in any visually evident lesion is about 60%.

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