Diagnostic and clinical significance of F-18-FDG-PET/CT thyroid incidentalomas

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Nov;97(11):3866-75. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-2390. Epub 2012 Aug 17.


Context: Thyroid incidentaloma diagnosed by 2-[18F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (F-18-FDG-PET/CT) is defined as a thyroid uptake incidentally and newly detected in a patient studied for nonthyroid purpose. In this review, we have comprehensively analyzed the diagnostic and clinical significance of F-18-FDG-PET/CT thyroid incidentalomas revealed during studies performed for an unrelated and nonthyroid purpose.

Evidence acquisition: A comprehensive literature research of the PubMed/MEDLINE databases was conducted to find relevant published articles about the F-18-FDG-PET or F-18-FDG-PET/CT thyroid incidentalomas.

Evidence synthesis: All studies considered in this review have investigated a very large number of patients, achieving overall about 147,505 units. The pooled incidence of thyroid incidentalomas detected by F-18-FDG-PET or PET/CT was 2.46% (95% confidence interval, 1.68-3.39%). The malignancy ratio was 34.6% (95% confidence interval, 29.3-40.2%).

Conclusion: F-18-FDG-PET/CT thyroid incidentaloma is a relevant clinical finding; diffuse uptakes and most focal uptakes are commonly caused by benign diseases, whereas about one third of focal uptakes are malignant; the most frequent malignant histological type responsible for F-18-FDG-PET/CT thyroid incidentaloma is papillary thyroid carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Thyroid Gland / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18