Purpose: Since (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) accumulates in neoplastic cells and in activated inflammatory cells, positron emission tomography (PET) with FDG could be valuable in diagnosing patients with fever of unknown origin (FUO). The aim of this study was to validate the use of FDG-PET as part of a structured diagnostic protocol in the general patient population with FUO.
Methods: From December 2003 to July 2005, 70 patients with FUO were recruited from one university hospital (n=38) and five community hospitals (n=32). A structured diagnostic protocol including FDG-PET was used. A dedicated, full-ring PET scanner was used for data acquisition. FDG-PET scans were interpreted by two staff members of the department of nuclear medicine without further clinical information. The final clinical diagnosis was used for comparison with the FDG-PET results.
Results: Of all scans, 33% were clinically helpful. The contribution of FDG-PET to the final diagnosis did not differ significantly between patients diagnosed in the university hospital and patients diagnosed in the community hospitals. FDG-PET contributed significantly more often to the final diagnosis in patients with continuous fever than in patients with periodic fever. FDG-PET was not helpful in any of the patients with normal erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP).
Conclusion: FDG-PET is a valuable imaging technique as part of a diagnostic protocol in the general patient population with FUO and a raised ESR or CRP.