The accuracy of [(18)F]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography as confirmed by biopsy in the diagnosis of spine metastases in a cancer population

Neurosurgery. 2009 Jan;64(1):107-13; discussion 113-4. doi: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000335176.98788.A1.


Objective: To determine the accuracy of [(18)F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) in the diagnosis of vertebral metastases in patients with cancer using needle-biopsy results and patient follow-up data.

Methods: A retrospective chart review of all patients who underwent a needle biopsy of a spinal lesion and underwent FDG-PET within 6 weeks of the biopsy was performed. Biopsy results and magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomographic appearance of the biopsied lesion, as well as long-term clinical follow-up data, were recorded for each patient. A total of 82 patients with solid tumors and hematological spine metastases were included in this study.

Results: The mean standardized uptake values of lesions with active cancer were 7.1 and 2.1 in benign lesions (P < 0.02). In patients with metastatic solid tumors, the mean standardized uptake value was 7.3. Stratification of solid tumor lesions according to whether they had a sclerotic appearance on computed tomographic scans showed that FDG-PET was a significantly better predictor of cancer status in lytic or mixed lesions. In patients with a history of solid tumors, there was 100% concordance between the FDG-PET and needle-biopsy diagnoses in nonsclerotic lesions, when the standardized uptake value cutoff of 2 was used.

Conclusion: FDG-PET is an accurate screening test for vertebral metastases in cancer patients. It is especially accurate in patients with nonsclerotic vertebral lesions and a history of solid malignancy.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spinal Neoplasms / secondary*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18