Assessing the role of ¹⁸F-FDG PET and ¹⁸F-FDG PET/CT in the diagnosis of soft tissue musculoskeletal malignancies: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2016 May;43(5):860-870. doi: 10.1007/s00259-015-3242-z. Epub 2015 Dec 3.


Purpose: Twelve years ago a meta-analysis evaluated the diagnostic performance of (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) in assessing musculoskeletal soft tissue lesions (MsSTL). Currently, PET/CT has substituted PET imaging; however, there has not been any published meta-analysis on the use of PET/CT or a comparison of PET/CT with PET in the diagnosis of MsSTL. Therefore, we conducted a meta-analysis to identify the current diagnostic performance of (18)F-FDG PET/CT and determine if there is added value when compared to PET.

Methods: A systematic review of English articles was conducted, and MEDLINE PubMed, the Cochrane Library, and Embase were searched from 1996 to March 2015. Studies exploring the diagnostic accuracy of (18)F-FDG PET/CT (or dedicated PET) compared to histopathology in patients with MsSTL undergoing investigation for malignancy were included.

Results: Our meta-analysis included 14 articles composed of 755 patients with 757 soft tissue lesions. There were 451 (60 %) malignant tumors and 306 benign lesions. The (18)F-FDG PET/CT (and dedicated PET) mean sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value for diagnosing MsSTL were 0.96 (0.90, 1.00), 0.77 (0.67, 0.86), 0.88 (0.85, 0.91), 0.86 (0.78, 0.94), and 0.91 (0.83, 0.99), respectively. The posterior mean (95 % highest posterior density interval) for the AUC was 0.92 (0.88, 0.96). PET/CT had higher specificity, accuracy, and positive predictive value when compared to a dedicated PET (0.85, 0.89, and 0.91 vs 0.71, 0.85, and 0.82, respectively).

Conclusion: (18)F-FDG PET/CT and dedicated PET are both highly accurate in the diagnosis of MsSTL. PET/CT is more accurate and specific and has a higher positive predictive value than PET.

Keywords: 18F-FDG; Meta-analysis; Musculoskeletal; PET/CT; Sarcoma; Soft tissue tumors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Muscle Tissue / diagnostic imaging*
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18