Impact of 18F-FDG PET/CT on treatment of patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma, negative 131I whole body scan and elevated serum thyroglobulin

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Molecular Imaging and Therapy, Austin Health, Melbourne, VIC Australia

2 Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

3 School of Cancer Medicine, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

4 Faculty of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


Objective(s): 18F-FDG PET/CT is increasingly performed in patients with differen-tiated thyroid cancer. The aim of this study was to assess the clinical impact of 18F-FDG PET/CT on the management of patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma who had elevated serum thyroglobulin (Tg) and negative 131I whole body scan (WBS).
Methods: 67 patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma were included in this study. The findings of 18F-FDG PET/CT imaging were compared with histo-pathology, follow up imaging, or clinical follow-up results. The diagnostic accuracy of 18F-FDG PET/CT was evaluated for the entire patient group and for those patients with stimulated serum thyroglobulin levels of less than 5, 5–10, and more than 10 pmol/L as well as for local recurrences and metastases sites. The impact of 18F-FDG PET/CT on therapeutic management was also evaluated.
Results: 30/67 patients had positive findings on 18F-FDG PET/CT; 28 were true-positive and 2 were false-positive. 18F-FDG PET/CT results were true-negative in 36 patients and false-negative in 1 patient. The overall sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, PPV and NPV of 18F-FDG PET/CT were, 96.5%, 94.5%, 95.5%, 93.3%, and 97.2% respectively. Positive 18F-FDG PET/CT findings were directly correlated with stimulated serum thyroglobulin levels, 7.1% had Tg between 5–10, and 92.9% had Tg greater than 10 pmol/L. 18F-FDG PET/CT had a high or moderate impact on treatment management in 28 (41.8%) of patients.
Conclusion: 18F-FDG PET/CT is able to improve diagnostic accuracy and have management impact in a therapeutically relevant way in patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma who present with rising thyroglobulin level, negative 131I WBS, and clinical suspicion of recurrent disease.


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