Limitations of dual time point PET in the assessment of lung nodules with low FDG avidity

Lung Cancer. 2010 Apr;68(1):66-71. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2009.05.013. Epub 2009 Jun 25.


FDG PET has long shown efficacy in the evaluation of indeterminate pulmonary nodules. More recently, the use of dual time point imaging has been looked at as a means for improving sensitivity and accuracy. While initial reports were very promising, more recent results looking specifically at pulmonary lesions with low levels of FDG avidity demonstrated limitations. These lesions (initial maximum standard uptake value of less than 2.5) are of particular interest due to the fact that well-differentiated adenocarcinomas, broncheoaveolar carcinoma and carcinoid may have low FDG avidity on standard PET imaging, leading to false-negative exams. Our study retrospectively reviewed the accuracy of dual time point (DTP) FDG PET imaging to determine if it aided in the identification of malignant pulmonary nodules when initial time point imaging showed a maximum SUV of less than 2.5. 113 patients had undergone a total of 130 DTP PET/CT with 152 lesions assessed. 67 lesions were subsequently definitively diagnosed as benign or malignant based upon biopsy or imaging follow-up. Utilizing a maximum SUV increase of 10%, which optimizes our sensitivity and specificity; our results demonstrate a sensitivity of 63% and a specificity of 59%, similar to other investigators evaluating lesions with low FDG avidity. Increasing or decreasing this threshold did not improve our results, nor did the addition of lesions with maximum SUV's of 2.5 or greater on initial imaging. Specifically in nodules with low FDG avidity (max SUV<2.5), the sensitivity was 61%, specificity 58%, and accuracy was 60%. Our findings suggest that DTP FDG PET may not be of benefit in the assessment of pulmonary nodules with maximum SUV of less than 2.5 on initial imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Diseases / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / diagnostic imaging*
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / pathology


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18