FDG-PET: An Advantage Over Traditional Imaging Techniques?

The following was co-written by Dr. Miguel Pampaloni, Chief, Nuclear Medicine.

Positron emission tomography imaging (PET) has become the standard for the staging, restaging and the monitoring of treatment response in a variety of tumors. Recent studies have suggested that this technique is of value for the assessment of recurrent disease after the resection of liver or pulmonary lesions by radio-frequency ablation (RFA). PET uses a surrogate of glucose, which different level and pattern of uptake may help to distinguish post-treatment inflammatory response from true tumoral relapse.

Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET imaging has emerged as a robust modality in the imaging of primary and metastatic tumors. FDG-PET has several advantages over traditional imaging techniques, such as computed tomography, including the ability to detect physiologic changes within a tumor that precede anatomic changes.

RFA is a non-invasive method used to treat certain tumors and is a well established technique in the liver. Early studies have shown promising data in the use of RFA in early lung cancer, particularly in patients who are not good surgical candidates. As mentioned above, recent data suggest that FDG-PET may be used in the follow-up of patients with lung cancer who have undergone RFA. Again, FDG-PET may be superior to computed tomography, given its ability to differentiate tumor from inflammatory cells.