Positive FDG-PET/CT of the pleura twenty years after talc pleurodesis: three cases of benign talcoma

Respiration. 2014;87(3):243-8. doi: 10.1159/000356752. Epub 2014 Jan 18.


The FDG-PET (fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography) scan is used with increasing frequency to investigate pleural abnormalities and to determine the possibility of neoplastic invasion. However, false-positive findings are not uncommon and talc pleurodesis has been reported to cause hypermetabolic pleural thickenings up to 5 years after the procedure. We report the cases of 3 patients (2 of whom had a history of asbestos exposure) requiring talc pleurodesis for recurrent pneumothoraces between 1988 and 1990, who were investigated in 2011 for pleural abnormalities. Avid pleural thickening on FDG-PET scan mimicking pleural cancer was found, but this was deemed secondary to the pleurodesis. Talc pleurodesis generates inflammation which promotes pleural adhesions. This inflammatory reaction could decrease with time, as in other inflammatory processes. Since talc is not metabolized by the body, the FDG-PET scan can remain positive, most likely because of a foreign-body granulomatous reaction, even 20 years later. It is important to be aware of this possibility and to question patients with pleural abnormalities about past procedures and mention such procedures to the colleagues who are responsible for interpreting metabolic imaging. Follow-up of hypermetabolic pleural lesions attributed to talc pleurodesis is important for the detection of new pleural lesions or neoplastic evolution.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnostic Errors*
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Granuloma, Foreign-Body / diagnostic imaging*
  • Granuloma, Foreign-Body / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimodal Imaging
  • Pleural Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pleural Diseases / etiology
  • Pleural Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pleurodesis*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Talc / adverse effects
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Talc