Unilateral axillary lymph node fluorodeoxyglucose uptakes after coronavirus disease 2019 vaccination

Document Type : Case report


Department of Radiology, Kurume University School of Medicine, Japan


Vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) started in early December 2020 worldwide, and healthcare workers in Japan were vaccinated in February 2021. We encountered three patients who underwent 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) for cancer screening at our institution, showing FDG uptakes in the axillary lymph nodes, which seemed to be reactive changes. Two of them were males in their 40s and one was a female in her 50s; all of them were healthcare workers. The medical history revealed that they received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination twice at their left shoulders before the FDG PET/CT examination. The degree of FDG uptakes were maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax)=3.2–9.9, SUVmax=5.9–10.3, and SUVmax=2.8–7.9, respectively. They were diagnosed with reactive lymph nodes because of vaccination owing to the absence of abnormal FDG PET/CT findings at other sites. As COVID-19 vaccination becomes more widespread in Japan, radiologists should be aware of these findings to avoid misdiagnosis of FDG uptakes in pathological lymph nodes and to prevent unnecessary additional examinations. Recently, similar FDG PET/CT findings have been reported after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, and we will report it with a literature review.


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