The feasibility of 11C-methionine-PET in diagnosis of solitary lung nodules/masses when compared with 18F-FDG-PET

Hung-Jen Hsieh, Sheng-Hsiang Lin, Ko-Han Lin, Chien-Ying Lee, Cheng-Pei Chang, Shyh-Jen Wang
Annals of Nuclear Medicine 2008, 22 (6): 533-8

OBJECTIVE: To differentiate between benign and malignant lesions of the lung, 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (18F-FDG-PET) has limitations such as a lower specificity in cases of non-specific inflammation. The positive predictive value is unsatisfactory in countries where inflammatory lung disorders are prevalent. We present the preliminary results of the usefulness of combining 11C-methionine-PET and 18F-FDG-PET in this context.

METHODS: Fifteen patients with indeterminate solitary pulmonary nodules/masses (10 men, 5 women; average age 64.7 +/- 14.0 years, ranging from 25 to 87 years) were studied using 11C-methionine- and 18F-FDG-PET. Interpretations were primarily made on visual analysis with five-point scale and a consensus of two nuclear medicine physicians, using standardized uptake value as an accessory reference. Foci of abnormal radiotracer uptake were subsequently correlated with clinical follow-up, imaging modalities such as chest radiography, chest computed tomography (CT), serial PET studies, and pathology results from bronchoscopic biopsy and/or surgical specimen.

RESULTS: Diagnoses were established in 14 patients. The 11C-methionine-PET and 18F-FDG-PET studies were both true positive in two cases of adenocarcinoma and true negative in two cases of clinical benign nodules. In one case of lymphoid hyperplasia both 11C-methionine-PET and 18F-FDG-PET showed false-positive findings. Discordant results were obtained in nine cases. In spite of the false-positive results of 18F-FDG-PET, 11C-methionine-PET was true negative in four cases with chronic inflammatory nodules and three cases of pulmonary tuberculosis. Furthermore, (11)C-methionine-PET was true positive in one case of lung metastasis of thyroid cancer, and in another with recurrence of gastric cancer, respectively, for which 18F-FDG-PET imaging was false negative.

CONCLUSIONS: Our experience indicates that 11C-methionine-PET seems more specific and sensitive when compared with 18F-FDG-PET for the purpose of differentiating benign and malignant thoracic nodules/masses. The possibility of an FDG-avid lesion being malignant is decreased if it shows a negative result by 11C-methionine-PET.

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