State-of-the-art PET/CT of the pancreas: current role and emerging indications

Radiographics. 2012 Jul-Aug;32(4):1133-58; discussion 1158-60. doi: 10.1148/rg.324115143.


Fused positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) is a recently developed technology that couples the functional information of PET with the anatomic details of CT. Integrated PET/CT scanners produce both PET and contrast material-enhanced CT images of the entire body in one setting. Typically, the amount of fluorine 18 (18F) fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake in normal pancreatic parenchyma is insignificant compared with that of the liver. However, both malignant (eg, adenocarcinoma) and benign (eg, acute pancreatitis) pancreatic conditions may demonstrate intense FDG uptake. PET/CT provides an opportunity to depict pancreatic tumors and distant metastases, perform preoperative staging, and monitor response to treatment, and it has proved useful in distinguishing postoperative fibrosis from recurrence. In selected cases, PET/CT findings may be used to help diagnose autoimmune pancreatitis mimicking a mass by depicting systemic involvement. PET/CT may also be used to direct biopsy to sites more likely to yield representative tumor tissue. Novel radiolabeled molecules, such as sigma-receptor ligands and 18F-3'-fluoro-3'-deoxy-l-thymidine (FLT), may play an even greater role in distinguishing tumor recurrence from postoperative fibrosis or inflammation.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Multimodal Imaging / methods*
  • Pancreas / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pancreatic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*