F-18 FDG uptake in breast infection and inflammation

Clin Nucl Med. 2000 Feb;25(2):100-3. doi: 10.1097/00003072-200002000-00003.


Purpose: Whole-body fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (F-18 FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) scanning has been useful in the management of breast cancer. However, F-18 FDG uptake sometimes has been associated with benign breast disease. Four cases are reported of F-18 FDG breast uptake caused by infectious or inflammatory mastitis that mimics malignant disease.

Methods and results: Two women had F-18 FDG whole-body scans for the evaluation of a large breast mass after inconclusive results of ultrasonography. In both cases, intense focal F-18 FDG breast uptake was noted that mimicked breast cancer. Histologic examination showed, in one patient, chronic granulomatous infiltration that likely represented tuberculous mastitis, because she showed a good clinical response to empirical anti-tuberculous treatment. The second patient had lactational changes associated with acute inflammation, and the culture grew Staphylococcus aureus. The breast mass completely disappeared 3 weeks after a course of antibiotic treatment. The other two patients had staging F-18 FDG PET scans 1 and 12 months after lumpectomy for breast carcinoma to detect residual, recurrent, or metastatic disease. Both scans showed a ring-like uptake in the involved breast, with superimposed intense focal uptake suggesting tumor necrosis centrally and malignant foci peripherally. In both cases, histologic examination revealed hemorrhagic inflammation secondary to postsurgical hematomas and no evidence of malignancy.

Conclusion: Acute or chronic infectious mastitis and postsurgical hemorrhagic inflammatory mastitis should be considered in patients who have a breast mass, especially those with a history of tenderness or surgery.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes*
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Hematoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Mastitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Mastitis / microbiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*
  • Tuberculosis / diagnostic imaging


  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18