Objectives: To determine the value of intravenous contrast medium in (68)Ga-DOTA-Phe(1)-Tyr(3)-octreotide - (68)Ga-DOTATOC - PET/CT for the detection of abdominal neuroendocrine tumours (NET).
Methods: In fifty-five patients with known or suspected NETs of the abdomen PET/CT was performed on a 64-row multi-detector hybrid system. For PET, 150 MBq of (68)Ga-DOTATOC were injected intravenously. Full-dose unenhanced, and arterial- and venous-phase contrast-enhanced CT images were obtained. Unenhanced and contrast-enhanced PET/CT images were evaluated separately for the presence of NETs on a per-region basis, by two separate teams with different experience levels.
Results: On unenhanced PET/CT, sensitivity and specificity ranged from 89.3% (junior team) to 92% (senior team), and 99.1% (junior team) to 99.2% (senior team), respectively. On contrast-enhanced PET/CT, sensitivity and specificity ranged from 92.3% (junior team) to 98.5% (senior team), and 99.4% (junior team) to 99.5% (senior team), respectively. These increases in sensitivity and specificity, due to the use of contrast-enhanced images, were statistically significant (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: Intravenous contrast medium only moderately, aleit significantly, improves the sensitivity of (68)Ga-DOTATOC PET/CT for the detection of abdominal NETs, and hardly affects specificity. Thus, while contrast enhancement is justified to achieve maximum sensitivity, unenhanced images may be sufficient for routine PET/CT in NET patients.
Key points: Contrast media moderately improve the sensitivity of (68)Ga-DOTATOC PET/CT for neuroendocrine tumours. Contrast media hardly affect the specificity of (68)Ga-DOTATOC PET/CT for neuroendocrine tumours. Unenhanced PET/CT is sufficient for routine imaging of patients with neuroendocrine tumours.