Background: Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are rare tumors harboring overexpression of somatostatin receptors (SSTRs) on their cell membrane. Because some organs, such as the spleen, adrenal glands and liver, physiologically express SSTR, it might be challenging to distinguish some pancreatic NETs located in the pancreatic tail from the accessory spleen next to the splenic hilum. In this manuscript, we report a case with hypoglycemia attack and 2 different masses displayed by Gallium 68-tetraazacyclododecane tetraacetic acid-octreotate (68Ga-DOTATATE) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT).
Case presentation: A 63-year-old woman presented to the hospital with confusion and profuse sweating. Biochemical diagnosis of insulinoma was established. 68Ga-DOTATATE PET/CT revealed two masses with increased tracer uptake located adjacent to the splenic hilum and inferior pole of the spleen which were initially reported as two separate accessory spleens. Then, 99mTc-labelled heat-denaturated red blood cell (99mTc-HDRBC) scintigraphy-single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)/CT was performed to distinguish a NET in the pancreatic tail from accessory spleen at the splenic hilum. Enhanced tracer uptake remained in the inferior pole of spleen, but not in the splenic hilum. The lesions were suggestive of insulinoma in the pancreatic tail and an accessory spleen adjacent to the inferior pole of the spleen.
Conclusion: Approximately 10% of the population have an accessory spleen which can show similar imaging characteristics with pancreatic NETs, especially if located in the pancreatic tail. In our presented case, 99mTc-HDRBC scintigraphy-SPECT/CT is a useful nuclear medicine method to differentiate a NET in the pancreatic tail from accessory spleen at the splenic hilum which may avoid unnecessary surgeries in the presence of enhanced tracer uptake or vice versa.
Keywords: 68Ga-DOTATATE PET/CT; 99mTc-HDRBC scintigraphy-SPECT/CT; Accessory spleen; Case report; Insulinoma.