Is 18F-fluorocholine-positron emission tomography/computerized tomography a new imaging tool for detecting hyperfunctioning parathyroid glands in primary or secondary hyperparathyroidism?

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Dec;99(12):4531-6. doi: 10.1210/jc.2014-2821.


Context: Preoperative ultrasonography and scintigraphy using (99m)Tc-sestamibi are commonly used to localize abnormal parathyroid glands. In cases of discrepant results between scintigraphy and ultrasonography, it is important to rely on another diagnostic imaging modality. (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) and (11)C-methionine positron emission tomography (PET) have been studied, but are imperfect to detect abnormal parathyroid glands. Recently, first cases of abnormal parathyroid glands taking-up radiolabelled choline were discovered incidentally in men referred to (11)C-choline or (18)F-fluorocholine (FCH)-PET/CT for prostate cancer. We checked if FCH uptake was a general feature of adenomatous or hyperplastic parathyroid glands.

Methods: FCH-PET/CT was performed in 12 patients with primary (n = 8) or secondary hyperparathyroidism (1 dialyzed, 3 grafted) and with discordant or equivocal results on preoperative ultrasonography (US) and/or (123)I/(99m)Tc-sestamibi dual-phase scintigraphy. The results of the FCH-PET/CT were evaluated, with surgical exploration and histopathologic examination as the standard of truth.

Results: On a per-patient level, the detection rate of FCH-PET/CT (at least one FCH focus corresponding to an abnormal parathyroid gland in a given patient) was 11/12 = 92%. FCH-PET/CT detected 18 foci interpreted as parathyroid glands and correctly localized 17 abnormal parathyroid glands (7 adenomas and 10 hyperplasias). On a per-lesion level, FCH-PET/CT results were 17 TP, 2 false negative ie, a lesion-based sensitivity of 89%, and 1 false positive.

Conclusion: As the main result of this pilot study, we show that in patients with hyperparathyroidism and with discordant or equivocal results on scintigraphy or on ultrasonography, adenomatous or hyperplastic parathyroid glands can be localized by FCH-PET/CT with good accuracy. Furthermore, FCH-PET/CT can solve discrepant results between preoperative ultrasonography and scintigraphy and has thus a potential as a functional imaging modality in the detection of abnormal parathyroid glands. Our preliminary results are encouraging and prompt us to further evaluate FCH-PET/CT as a functional imaging agent in patients with biochemical hyperparathyroidism.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Choline / analogs & derivatives*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary / pathology
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary / surgery
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Secondary / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Secondary / pathology
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Secondary / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parathyroid Glands / diagnostic imaging*
  • Parathyroid Glands / pathology
  • Parathyroid Glands / surgery
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Pilot Projects
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • fluorocholine
  • Choline