When should we recommend use of dual time-point and delayed time-point imaging techniques in FDG PET?

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2013 May;40(5):779-87. doi: 10.1007/s00259-013-2343-9. Epub 2013 Jan 30.


FDG PET and PET/CT are now widely used in oncological imaging for tumor characterization, staging, restaging, and response evaluation. However, numerous benign etiologies may cause increased FDG uptake indistinguishable from that of malignancy. Multiple studies have shown that dual time-point imaging (DTPI) of FDG PET may be helpful in differentiating malignancy from benign processes. However, exceptions exist, and some studies have demonstrated significant overlap of FDG uptake patterns between benign and malignant lesions on delayed time-point images. In this review, we summarize our experience and opinions on the value of DTPI and delayed time-point imaging in oncology, with a review of the relevant literature. We believe that the major value of DTPI and delayed time-point imaging is the increased sensitivity due to continued clearance of background activity and continued FDG accumulation in malignant lesions, if the same diagnostic criteria (as in the initial standard single time-point imaging) are used. The specificity of DTPI and delayed time-point imaging depends on multiple factors, including the prevalence of malignancies, the patient population, and the cut-off values (either SUV or retention index) used to define a malignancy. Thus, DTPI and delayed time-point imaging would be more useful if performed for evaluation of lesions in regions with significant background activity clearance over time (such as the liver, the spleen, the mediastinum), and if used in the evaluation of the extent of tumor involvement rather than in the characterization of the nature of any specific lesion. Acute infectious and non-infectious inflammatory lesions remain as the major culprit for diminished diagnostic performance of these approaches (especially in tuberculosis-endemic regions). Tumor heterogeneity may also contribute to inconsistent performance of DTPI. The authors believe that selective use of DTPI and delayed time-point imaging will improve diagnostic accuracy and interpretation confidence in FDG PET imaging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Time Factors


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18