Purpose: The detection of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours (MPNSTs) in patients with neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) remains a clinical challenge. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of [(18)F]2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose PET/CT (FDG PET/CT with early and delayed imaging) in patients with symptomatic neurofibromas, to revalidate current cut-off values for identification of malignant change within neurofibromas and to examine the relationship between SUV and tumour grade.
Methods: Patients with symptomatic neurofibromas underwent FDG PET/CT imaging at 90 and 240 min. Semiquantitative analysis using maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) was performed and correlated with histology.
Result: In 69 patients, 85 lesions were identified for analysis, including 10 atypical neurofibromas and 21 MPNSTs. Sensitivity of FDG PET/CT in diagnosing NF1-associated MPNST was 0.97 (95% CI 0.81-0.99) and the specificity was 0.87 (CI 0.74-0.95). There was a significant difference in SUVmax between early and delayed imaging and in SUVmax between tumours identified as benign and malignant on PET/CT. There was also a significant difference in SUVmax between tumour grades.
Conclusion: FDG PET/CT is a highly sensitive and specific imaging modality for the diagnosis of MPNST in NF1 patients. We recommend performing early (90 min) and delayed imaging at 4 h for accurate lesion characterization and using a cut-off SUVmax of 3.5 on delayed imaging to achieve maximal sensitivity.