Pre-medication to block [(18)F]FDG uptake in the brown adipose tissue of pediatric and adolescent patients

Pediatr Radiol. 2005 Oct;35(10):984-90. doi: 10.1007/s00247-005-1505-8. Epub 2005 Jun 30.


Background: Radiopharmaceutical uptake of [(18)F]2-deoxy-2-glucose (FDG) in brown adipose tissue is noted on 15-20% of positron emission tomography (PET) scans in children and adolescents. One report suggests that moderate-dose oral diazepam can partly or completely block FDG uptake in brown adipose tissue.

Objective: To determine whether [(18)F]FDG uptake in brown adipose tissue can be adequately blocked by pre-medication other than moderate-dose oral diazepam.

Materials and methods: One hundred and eighteen [(18)F]FDG PET body imaging studies were performed in 69 pediatric patients with a variety of solid tumors. The mean age at the time of imaging was 12.9 years (range 1.2-22.6 years), and 33 studies were performed in patients younger than 10 years old. Seventy-six were performed in boys and 42 in girls. Patients were imaged using a dedicated PET camera. Pre-medication was given in 88 studies: 45 received intravenous fentanyl (0.75-1.0 mug/kg), 34 received low-dose oral diazepam (0.06 mg/kg) and 9 received moderate-dose oral diazepam (0.10 mg/kg). Thirty patients received no pre-medication, 7 of whom were known to have received opiates for pain during the 12 h before the study. Six body regions in the neck and chest were reviewed for [(18)F]FDG uptake in brown adipose tissue. Uptake of FDG in brown fat was visually graded: 0 for no FDG uptake, 1 for low-grade uptake, 2 for moderate uptake, and 3 for intense uptake. Visual grades 2 and 3 were considered to interfere potentially with image interpretation in the neck and chest. Data were analyzed by multivariate regression using a Poisson distribution.

Results: [(18)F]FDG uptake in brown adipose tissue was most often seen in the lateral neck region and superior and lateral to the lungs (in 36 and 39 studies, respectively). Uptake was also seen near the costovertebral junctions (15 studies), in the superior and central neck in 7 studies and in the anterior mediastinum in 2. Brown adipose tissue uptake was thought to interfere potentially with image interpretation (visual grades 2 and 3) in 19 studies-in 6 of 23 (26.1%) studies after no pre-medication and no opiates for pain, in 10 of 34 (29.4%) after low-dose oral diazepam, in 0 of 9 (0%) after moderate-dose oral diazepam, in 3 of 45 (6.7%) after intravenous fentanyl, and in 0 of 7 (0%) after opiates prescribed for pain. Intravenous fentanyl reduced the grade of brown adipose tissue compared to no drug (P=0.0039) and low-dose diazepam (P=0.0024). Low-dose diazepam had no effect when compared to no drug (P=0.984). There were inadequate data for statistical testing of moderate-dose valium and opiates prescribed for pain. Children younger than 10 years had lower uptake grades (P=0.019) than those older than 10 years.

Summary: The frequency of interfering [(18)F]FDG uptake in brown adipose tissue is reduced by intravenous fentanyl pre-medication, which appears to be an effective alternative to the existing standard pre-medication, moderate-dose oral diazepam.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / metabolism*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diazepam / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Fentanyl / pharmacology
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacology
  • Infant
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Premedication*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / pharmacokinetics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thorax


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Diazepam
  • Fentanyl