Evaluation of a cumulative SUV-volume histogram method for parameterizing heterogeneous intratumoural FDG uptake in non-small cell lung cancer PET studies

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2011 Sep;38(9):1636-47. doi: 10.1007/s00259-011-1845-6. Epub 2011 May 27.


Purpose: Standardized uptake values (SUV) are commonly used for quantification of whole-body [(18)F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D: -glucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) studies. Changes in SUV following therapy, however, only provide a proper measure of response in case of homogeneous FDG uptake in the tumour. The purpose of this study was therefore to implement and characterize a method that enables quantification of heterogeneity in tumour FDG uptake.

Methods: Cumulative SUV-volume histograms (CSH), describing % of total tumour volume above % threshold of maximum SUV (SUV(max)), were calculated. The area under a CSH curve (AUC) is a quantitative index of tumour uptake heterogeneity, with lower AUC corresponding to higher degrees of heterogeneity. Simulations of homogeneous and heterogeneous responses were performed to assess the value of AUC-CSH for measuring uptake and/or response heterogeneity. In addition, partial volume correction and image denoising was applied prior to calculating AUC-CSH. Finally, the method was applied to a number of human FDG scans.

Results: Partial volume correction and noise reduction improved CSH curves. Both simulations and clinical examples showed that AUC-CSH values corresponded with level of tumour heterogeneity and/or heterogeneity in response. In contrast, this correspondence was not seen with SUV(max) alone. The results indicate that the main advantage of AUC-CSH above other measures, such as 1/COV (coefficient of variation), is the possibility to measure or normalize AUC-CSH in different ways.

Conclusion: AUC-CSH might be used as a quantitative index of heterogeneity in tracer uptake. In response monitoring studies it can be used to address heterogeneity in response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biological Transport
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Tumor Burden*


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18