Purpose: (18)F-Fluoro-L-dihydroxyphenylalanine ((18)F-DOPA) PET offers high sensitivity and specificity in the imaging of nonmetastatic extra-adrenal paragangliomas (PGL) but lower sensitivity in metastatic or multifocal disease. These tumours are of neuroendocrine origin and can be detected by (68)Ga-DOTA-Tyr(3)-octreotide ((68)Ga-DOTA-TOC) PET. Therefore, we compared (68)Ga-DOTA-TOC and (18)F-DOPA as radiolabels for PET/CT imaging for the diagnosis and staging of extra-adrenal PGL. Combined cross-sectional imaging was the reference standard.
Methods: A total of 5 men and 15 women (age range 22 to 73 years) with anatomical and/or histologically proven extra-adrenal PGL were included in this study. Of these patients, 5 had metastatic or multifocal lesions and 15 had single sites of disease. Comparative evaluation included morphological imaging with CT and functional imaging with (68)Ga-DOTA-TOC PET and (18)F-DOPA PET. The imaging results were analysed on a per-patient and a per-lesion basis. The maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) of each functional imaging modality in concordant tumour lesions was measured.
Results: Compared with anatomical imaging, (68)Ga-DOTA-TOC PET and (18)F-DOPA PET each had a per-patient and per-lesion detection rate of 100% in nonmetastatic extra-adrenal PGL. However, in metastatic or multifocal disease, the per-lesion detection rate of (68)Ga-DOTA-TOC was 100% and that of (18)F-DOPA PET was 56.0%. Overall, (68)Ga-DOTA-TOC PET identified 45 lesions; anatomical imaging identified 43 lesions, and (18)F-DOPA PET identified 32 lesions. The overall per-lesion detection rate of (68)Ga-DOTA-TOC PET was 100% (McNemar, P < 0.5), and that of (18)F-DOPA PET was 71.1% (McNemar, P < 0.001). The SUVmax (mean ± SD) of all 32 concordant lesions was 67.9 ± 61.5 for (68)Ga-DOTA-TOC PET and 11.8 ± 7.9 for (18)F-DOPA PET (Mann-Whitney U test, P < 0.0001).
Conclusion: (68)Ga-DOTA-TOC PET may be superior to (18)F-DOPA PET and diagnostic CT in providing valuable information for pretherapeutic staging of extra-adrenal PGL, particularly in surgically inoperable tumours and metastatic or multifocal disease.