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Preoperative F-18 fluorocholine PET/CT for the detection of hyperfunctioning parathyroid glands in patients with secondary or tertiary hyperparathyroidism: comparison with Tc-99m sestamibi scan and neck ultrasound.

OBJECTIVES: Currently, neck ultrasound is the preferred preoperative imaging in patients with secondary/tertiary hyperparathyroidism, and the use of Tc-99m sestamibi scan is limited in these patients. We conducted this study to compare the diagnostic utilities of F-18 fluorocholine PET/CT, Tc-99m sestamibi scintigraphy, and neck ultrasound for localizing hyperfunctioning parathyroid glands in secondary/tertiary hyperparathyroidism.

METHODS: We prospectively enrolled 30 dialysis patients with a diagnosis of secondary/tertiary hyperparathyroidism; of these, 27 participants underwent all three imaging modalities, including dual-phase F-18 fluorocholine PET/CT (PET acquired 5 and 60 min after tracer injection), dual-phase Tc-99 m sestamibi SPECT/CT, and neck ultrasound. All patients underwent parathyroidectomy after imaging. We compared the lesion-based sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of the three image tools using histopathology as the reference.

RESULTS: A total of 27 patients (107 lesions) underwent all three imaging modalities and entered the final analysis. The lesion-based sensitivities of F-18 fluorocholine PET/CT, Tc-99m sestamibi, and ultrasound were 86%, 55%, and 62%, respectively (both p < 0.001, when comparing F-18 fluorocholine PET/CT to Tc-99 m sestamibi scan and to ultrasound). F-18 fluorocholine PET/CT, Tc-99m sestamibi, and ultrasound had similar specificities of 93%, 80%, and 87%, respectively. The accuracy of F-18 fluorocholine PET/CT (87%) was significantly higher than that of Tc-99m sestamibi (59%) and ultrasound (65%) (both p < 0.001). F-18 fluorocholine PET/CT identified more hyperplastic glands than ultrasound in 52% (14/27) patients. The sensitivity of F-18 fluorocholine PET/CT reached 95% for hyperplastic parathyroid masses as low as 200 mg.

CONCLUSIONS: F-18 fluorocholine PET/CT shows superior accuracy over the conventional imaging modalities in patients with secondary or tertiary hyperparathyroidism. The combination of F-18 fluorocholine PET/CT and neck ultrasound may enable better surgical planning in these patients.


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