PET and PET/CT in pediatric oncology

Hossein Jadvar, Leonard P Connolly, Frederic H Fahey, Barry L Shulkin
Seminars in Nuclear Medicine 2007, 37 (5): 316-31
18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) and FDG-PET/computed tomography (CT) are becoming increasingly important imaging tools in the noninvasive evaluation and monitoring of children with known or suspected malignant diseases. In this review, we discuss the preparation of children undergoing PET studies and review radiation dosimetry and its implications for family and caregivers. We review the normal distribution of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) in children, common variations of the normal distribution, and various artifacts that may arise. We show that most tumors in children accumulate and retain FDG, allowing high-quality images of their distribution and pathophysiology. We explore the use of FDG-PET in the study of children with the more common malignancies, such as brain neoplasms and lymphomas, and the less-common tumors, including neuroblastomas, bone and soft-tissue sarcomas, Wilms' tumors, and hepatoblastomas. For comparison, other PET tracers are included because they have been applied in pediatric oncology. Multiple multicenter trials are underway that use FDG-PET in the management of children with neoplastic disease; these studies should give us greater insight into the impact FDG-PET can make in their care. PET is emerging as an important diagnostic imaging tool in the evaluation of pediatric cancers. The recent advent of dual-modality PET-computed tomography (PET/CT) imaging systems has added unprecedented diagnostic capability by revealing the precise anatomical localization of metabolic information and metabolic characterization of normal and abnormal structures. The use of CT transmission scanning for attenuation correction has shortened the total acquisition time, which is an especially desirable attribute in pediatric imaging. Moreover, expansion of the regional distribution of the most common PET radiotracer, FDG, and the introduction of mobile PET units have greatly increased access to this powerful diagnostic imaging technology. Here, we review the clinical applications of PET and PET/CT in pediatric oncology. General considerations in patient preparation and radiation dosimetry will be discussed.

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