Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: evaluation with positron emission tomography

Respiration. 2006;73(2):197-202. doi: 10.1159/000088062. Epub 2005 Aug 10.


Background: The pathogenesis of interstitial lung disease remains under investigation, but may be related to increased inflammatory or cellular activity. This activity may be detectable with physiologic imaging.

Objectives: We investigated the role of physiologic imaging using (18)F-2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose ((18)FDG)-positron emission tomography (PET) scans in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

Methods: Seven male patients with histologically confirmed IPF underwent (18)FDG-PET scans. Scans were analyzed qualitatively and interpreted as positive or negative. Patients also underwent pulmonary function tests and computed tomography (CT) scans.

Results: The average total lung capacity was 71 +/- 22% predicted (mean +/- SD) and diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide was 44 +/- 14% predicted. All had changes consistent with IPF on chest CT and 2 patients had ground glass attenuation. Six of seven patients (86%) had a positive (18)FDG-PET scan. Changes in the (18)FDG-PET scan were seen in 1 patient corresponding to changes in clinical status.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that (18)FDG-PET scans may be helpful in the evaluation of IPF. Increased activity suggests active disease and changes in response to therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Carbon Monoxide / metabolism
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Pulmonary Diffusing Capacity
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Total Lung Capacity


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Carbon Monoxide