The Clinical Role of Dual-Time-Point (18)F-FDG PET/CT in Differential Diagnosis of the Thyroid Incidentaloma

Sinae Lee, Taegyu Park, Soyeon Park, Kisoo Pahk, Seunghong Rhee, Jaehyuk Cho, Eugene Jeong, Sungeun Kim, Jae Gol Choe
Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 2014, 48 (2): 121-9
Thyroid incidentalomas are common findings during imaging studies including (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose ((18)F-FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) for cancer evaluation. Although the overall incidence of incidental thyroid uptake detected on PET imaging is low, clinical attention should be warranted owing to the high incidence of harboring primary thyroid malignancy. We retrospectively reviewed 2,368 dual-time-point (18)F-FDG PET/CT cases that were undertaken for cancer evaluation from November 2007 to February 2009, to determine the clinical impact of dual-time-point imaging in the differential diagnosis of thyroid incidentalomas. Focal thyroid uptake was identified in 64 PET cases and final diagnosis was clarified with cytology/histology in a total of 27 patients with (18)F-FDG-avid incidental thyroid lesion. The maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) of the initial image (SUV1) and SUVmax of the delayed image (SUV2) were determined, and the retention index (RI) was calculated by dividing the difference between SUV2 and SUV1 by SUV1 (i.e., RI = [SUV2 - SUV1]/SUV1 × 100). These indices were compared between patient groups that were proven to have pathologically benign or malignant thyroid lesions. There was no statistically significant difference in SUV1 between benign and malignant lesions. SUV2 and RI of the malignant lesions were significantly higher than the benign lesions. The areas under the ROC curves showed that SUV2 and RI have the ability to discriminate between benign and malignant thyroid lesions. The predictability of dual-time-point PET parameters for thyroid malignancy was assessed by ROC curve analyses. When SUV2 of 3.9 was used as cut-off threshold, malignancy on the pathology could be predicted with a sensitivity of 87.5 % and specificity of 75 %. A thyroid lesion that shows RI greater than 12.5 % could be expected to be malignant (sensitivity 88.9 %, specificity 66.3 %). All malignant lesions showed an increase in SUVmax on the delayed images compared with the initial images. But in the group of benign lesions, 37.5 % (6/16) showed a decrease or no change in SUVmax. Dual-time-point (18)F-FDG PET/CT, obtaining additional images 2 h after injection, seems to be a complementary method for the differentiation between malignancy and benignity of incidental thyroid lesions.

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