Improved discrimination between benign and malignant LDCT screening-detected lung nodules with dynamic over static 18F-FDG PET as a function of injected dose

Phys Med Biol. 2018 Sep 6;63(17):175015. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/aad97f.


Lung cancer mortality rate can be significantly reduced by up to 20% through routine low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening, which, however, has high sensitivity but low specificity, resulting in a high rate of false-positive nodules. Combining PET with CT may provide more accurate diagnosis for indeterminate screening-detected nodules. In this work, we investigated low-dose dynamic 18F-FDG PET in discrimination between benign and malignant nodules using a virtual clinical trial based on patient study with ground truth. Six patients with initial LDCT screening-detected lung nodules received 90 min single-bed PET scans following a 10 mCi FDG injection. Low-dose static and dynamic images were generated from under-sampled list-mode data at various count levels (100%, 50%, 10%, 5%, and 1%). A virtual clinical trial was performed by adding nodule population variability, measurement noise, and static PET acquisition start time variability to the time activity curves (TACs) of the patient data. We used receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis to estimate the classification capability of standardized uptake value (SUV) and net uptake constant K i from their simulated benign and malignant distributions. Various scan durations and start times (t *) were investigated in dynamic Patlak analysis to optimize simplified acquisition protocols with a population-based input function (PBIF). The area under curve (AUC) of ROC analysis was higher with increased scan duration and earlier t *. Highly similar results were obtained using PBIF to those using image-derived input function (IDIF). The AUC value for K i using optimized t * and scan duration with 10% dose was higher than that for SUV with 100% dose. Our results suggest that dynamic PET with as little as 1 mCi FDG could provide discrimination between benign and malignant lung nodules with higher than 90% sensitivity and specificity for patients similar to the pilot and simulated population in this study, with LDCT screening-detected indeterminate lung nodules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms*
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • ROC Curve
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / metabolism*
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / diagnostic imaging*
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / metabolism


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18