Positron emission tomography in the detection of malignant degeneration of low-grade gliomas

Neurosurgery. 1989 Jan;24(1):1-5. doi: 10.1227/00006123-198901000-00001.


The management of low-grade gliomas represents a challenge to the physician as a significant proportion may undergo malignant degeneration to a high-grade tumor. We present the positron emission tomography (PET) scans, using [18F] fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), of 12 patients who have histological and/or clinical evidence of malignant degeneration of a low-grade glioma. Each scan displays a focal area of hypermetabolism similar to that of malignant gliomas which arise de novo. Three patients also underwent PET scanning prior to malignant degeneration. When the initial scan is compared with the postmalignant degeneration study, a difference in tumoral glucose uptake can be recognized. A region previously shown to be hypometabolic develops focal hypermetabolism as malignant changes evolve. This study displays the utility of FDG-PET in the evaluation of malignant degeneration of low-grade gliomas. The knowledge that a neoplasm has altered its biological behavior may influence subsequent therapeutic options. If these findings can be confirmed in larger series and by other investigators, it is possible that FDG-PET may be adopted as one of the diagnostic tools for guiding the management of low-grade gliomas.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Glioma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Glioma / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*