Comparative Performance of ¹⁸F-FDG PET/MRI and ¹⁸F-FDG PET/CT in Detection and Characterization of Pulmonary Lesions in 121 Oncologic Patients

J Nucl Med. 2016 Apr;57(4):582-6. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.115.167486. Epub 2016 Jan 7.


Our objective was to compare (18)F-FDG PET/MRI (performed using a contrast-enhanced T1-weighted fat-suppressed volume-interpolated breath-hold examination [VIBE]) with (18)F-FDG PET/CT for detecting and characterizing lung lesions in oncologic patients.

Methods: In 121 oncologic patients with 241 lung lesions, PET/MRI was performed after PET/CT in a single-injection protocol (260 ± 58 MBq of (18)F-FDG). The detection rates were computed for MRI, the PET component of PET/CT, and the PET component of PET/MRI in relation to the CT component of PET/CT. Wilcoxon testing was used to assess differences in lesion contrast (4-point scale) and size between morphologic datasets and differences in image quality (4-point scale), SUVmean, SUVmax, and characterization (benign/malignant) between PET/MRI and PET/CT. Correlation was determined using the Pearson coefficient (r) for SUV and size and the Spearman rank coefficient (ρ) for contrast.

Results: The detection rates for MRI, the PET component of PET/CT, and the PET component of PET/MRI were 66.8%, 42.7%, and 42.3%, respectively. There was a strong correlation in size (r= 0.98) and SUV (r= 0.91) and a moderate correlation in contrast (ρ = 0.48). Image quality was better for PET/CT than for PET/MRI (P< 0.001). Lesion measurements were smaller for MRI than for CT (P< 0.001). SUVmax and SUVmean were significantly higher for PET/MRI than for PET/CT (P< 0.001 each). There was no significant difference in lesion contrast (P= 0.11) or characterization (P= 0.076).

Conclusion: In the detection and characterization of lung lesions 10 mm or larger, (18)F-FDG PET/MRI and (18)F-FDG PET/CT perform comparably. Lesion size, SUV and characterization correlate strongly between the two modalities. However, the overall detection rate of PET/MRI remains inferior to that of PET/CT because of the limited ability of MRI to detect lesions smaller than 10 mm. Thus, thoracic staging with PET/MRI bears a risk of missing small lung metastases.

Keywords: MRI; PET/CT; PET/MRI; lesion; lung.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimodal Imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Whole Body Imaging


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18