Adrenal masses: the value of additional fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) in differentiating between benign and malignant lesions

Masahiro Okada, Taro Shimono, Yoshihiro Komeya, Rina Ando, Yuki Kagawa, Takashi Katsube, Masatomo Kuwabara, Yukinobu Yagyu, Seishi Kumano, Izumi Imaoka, Norio Tsuchiya, Ryuichiro Ashikaga, Makoto Hosono, Takamichi Murakami
Annals of Nuclear Medicine 2009, 23 (4): 349-54

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether integrated fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) can differentiate benign from adrenal malignant lesions on the basis of maximum standardized uptake value (SUV(max)), tumor/liver (T/L) SUV(max) ratio, and CT attenuation value (Hounsfield Units; HU) of unenhanced CT obtained from FDG-PET/CT data.

METHODS: We studied 30 patients with 35 adrenal lesions (16 adrenal benign lesions, size 16 +/- 5 mm, in 15 patients; and 19 adrenal malignant lesions, 24 +/- 12 mm, in 15 patients) who had confirmed primary malignancies (lung cancer in 23 patients, lymphoma in 2, esophageal cancer in 2, hypopharyngeal cancer in 1, prostate cancer in 1, and 1 patient in whom lesions were detected at cancer screening). All patients underwent PET/CT at 1 h post FDG injection. Diagnosis of adrenal malignant lesions was based on interval growth or reduction after chemotherapy. An adrenal mass that remained unchanged for over 1 year was the standard used to diagnose adrenal benign lesions. Values of FDG uptake and CT attenuation were measured by placing volumetric regions of interest over PET/CT images. Adrenal uptake of SUV(max) >/= 2.5 was considered to indicate a malignant lesion; SUV(max) < 2.5 was considered to indicate a benign lesion. In further analysis, 1.8 was employed as the threshold for the T/L SUV(max) ratio. Unenhanced CT obtained from PET/CT data was considered positive for adrenal malignant lesions based on a CT attenuation value >/= 10 HU; lesions with a value < 10 HU were considered adrenal benign lesions. Mann-Whitney's U test was used for statistical analyses.

RESULTS: SUV(max) in adrenal malignant lesions (7.4 +/- 3.5) was higher than that in adrenal benign lesions (2.1 +/- 0.5, p < 0.05). The CT attenuation value of adrenal malignant lesions (27.6 +/- 11.9 HU) was higher than that of adrenal benign lesions (10.1 +/- 12.3 HU, p < 0.05). In differentiating between adrenal benign and malignant lesions, a CT threshold of 10 HU corresponded to a sensitivity of 57%, specificity of 94%, accuracy of 74%, positive predictive value of 92% and negative predictive value of 65%. An SUV(max) cut-off value of 2.5 corresponded to a sensitivity of 89%, specificity of 94%, accuracy of 91%, positive predictive value of 94% and negative predictive value of 88%. The T/L SUV(max) ratio was 1.0 +/- 0.2 for adrenal benign lesions and 4.5 +/- 3.0 for adrenal malignant lesions. And T/L SUV(max) ratio cut-off value of 1.8 corresponded to a sensitivity of 85%, specificity of 100%, accuracy of 91%, positive predictive value of 100% and negative predictive value of 83%.

CONCLUSIONS: FDG-PET/CT with additional SUV(max) analysis improves the diagnostic accuracy of adrenal lesions in cancer patients.

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