(18)F-DOPA PET/CT and MRI: description of 12 histologically-verified pheochromocytomas

Silvia Magnaldi, Marius E Mayerhoefer, Ashkan Khameneh, Matthias Schuetz, Domagoj Javor, Markus Mitterhauser, Robert Dudczak, Marcus Hacker, Georgios Karanikas
Anticancer Research 2014, 34 (2): 791-5

AIM: To describe the (18)F-fluorodihydro-xyphenylalanine ((18)F-DOPA), positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) appearance of pheochromocytomas, with a focus on the presence or absence of typical MRI features.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Eleven patients with histologically-verified pheochromocytoma [sporadic (n=9), multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) 2A syndrome (n=2)] were enrolled retrospectively. All patients underwent an MRI examination of the upper abdomen. Nine out of 11 patients underwent (18)F-DOPA PET/CT, and the remaining two patients underwent independent PET and computed tomography (CT) examinations. (18)F-DOPA-PET/CT examinations were considered positive when an increased tracer accumulation in the adrenal region, as shown on CT images, was observed. When an adrenal mass was detected on MRI, the T1 and T2 signal intensity and contrast enhancement pattern were recorded. Based on MR characteristics, the lesions were divided into typical and atypical.

RESULTS: Ten out of 11 patients had one lesion, while one patient had two lesions. All pheochromocytomas were detected by both PET/CT and MRI. On (18)F-DOPA scans, all lesions showed an increased tracer accumulation, with a mean maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) of 13.7±5.75. Eight out of 12 pheochromocytomas exhibited typical MRI features, with intermediate signal intensity on T1-weighted images in-phase, absence of signal drop on T1-weighted images out-of-phase, high signal intensity on T2-weighted images, and clear contrast enhancement in the arterial phase. The remaining four lesions exhibited atypical MRI features, namely absence of one of the listed criteria.

CONCLUSION: In the assessment of pheochromocytoma, the combination of (18)F-DOPA PET with MRI is superior to MRI-alone. (18)F-DOPA PET/MRI may yield a higher diagnostic confidence for the detection of pheochromocytoma than (18)F-DOPA PET/CT.

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