18F-FDG PET in characterizing adrenal lesions detected on CT or MRI

M. Yun, W. Kim, N. Alnafisi, L. Lacorte, S. Jang, A. Alavi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

322 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the ability of 18F-FDG PET to characterize adrenal lesions in patients with proven or suspected cancers. Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed on 50 adrenal lesions in 41 patients, whose PET scans were done to evaluate the primary or metastatic disease. CT had shown 50 adrenal lesions in 41 patients and MRI had revealed 13 lesions in 10 patients. There were 34 patients with proven malignancy (28 lung cancer, 3 thyroid cancer, 2 colorectal cancer, and 1 lymphoma) and 7 with lung nodules. Of the 50 lesions, 18 were eventually determined to be malignant either by histopathology (n = 7) or by follow-up (n = 11). The remaining 32 lesions were proven or assumed to be benign by histopathology (n = 4) or clinical follow-up (n = 28). Unlike previously published reports, PET was interpreted as positive if the uptake was equal to or greater than that of the liver. Results: No malignant lesion yielded a negative result on PET. Most lesions (13/18) showed significantly higher FDG uptake than that of the liver. In the remaining 5 lesions (2 metastases from neuroendocrine tumor, 2 early metastases, and 1 necrotic metastasis), FDG uptake was equal to or slightly higher than that of the liver. Of the 32 benign lesions, there were 2 lesions with uptake equal to or slightly higher than that of the liver, 3 with uptake less than the liver but more than the background, and 27 with uptake of the background. MRI identified 3 of the 13 lesions as falsepositives but FDG PET correctly identified all 3 as benign. The other 10 adrenal lesions accurately diagnosed by MRI were also characterized by PET. FDG PET for characterization of adrenal lesions showed a sensitivity of 100%, a specificity of 94%, and an accuracy of 96%. Conclusion: FDG PET showed excellent diagnostic performance in differentiating adrenal lesions detected on CT or MRI. Because FDG PET has the additional advantage of evaluating the primary lesions as well as metastases, it could be cost-effective and the modality of choice for the characterization of adrenal lesions, especially in patients with malignancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1795-1799
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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