18-F-fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography as a new approach to detect lymphomatous bone marrow

F Moog, M Bangerter, J Kotzerke, A Guhlmann, N Frickhofen, S N Reske
Journal of Clinical Oncology 1998, 16 (2): 603-9

PURPOSE: Bone marrow involvement in patients with malignant lymphoma is considered a sign of generalized disease with less favorable prognosis. Bone marrow biopsy (BMB), which represents the standard diagnostic procedure, however, is associated with a high rate of false-negative findings, which may lead to errors in management. The present study was undertaken to investigate the efficacy of positron emission tomography (PET) with 18-F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG-PET) as a new method to evaluate bone marrow involvement in patients with malignant lymphoma.

METHODS: Seventy-eight consecutive, untreated patients with either non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL; n = 39) or Hodgkin's disease (HD; n = 39) were prospectively evaluated. Static FDG-PET imaging was performed following application of 270 MBq (F-18)-FDG. Attenuation correction was performed in 63 of 78 patients. Visual evaluation was performed by two examiners unaware of the clinical data. Material for BMB (70 bilateral, 8 unilateral) was obtained from the posterior iliac crest. Discordant results of PET and biopsy were settled, when possible, on the basis of further biopsy or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

RESULTS: In addition to seven concordant positive and 57 concordant negative findings, biopsy revealed another four cases with bone marrow involvement not detectable by FDG-PET analysis (+5.1%). On the contrary, PET showed bone marrow areas of intensive FDG uptake that suggested bone marrow lymphoma in 10 patients with negative biopsies (+12.8%). In eight patients, FDG-PET findings were confirmed by either histologic verification (n = 4), MRI (n = 2), polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for rearranged immunoglobulin H sequences (n = 1), or clinical presentation (n = 1). Two cases remained unresolved.

CONCLUSION: The results indicate that FDG-PET has a high potential to detect bone marrow involvement in malignant lymphoma. Besides confirming lesions found at BMB, FDG-PET provided additional information, which, in eight of 78 patients (10.3%), led to an upgrade of the tumor stage.

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