COVID-19 vaccine-related lymph node activation - patterns of uptake on PET-CT

BJR Case Rep. 2021 Apr 20;7(3):20210040. doi: 10.1259/bjrcr.20210040. eCollection 2021 May 1.


In a bid to end the current COVID-19 crisis, many countries including UK have begun a mass immunization programme. Immunization can cause transient inflammation thereby causing increased metabolic activity at injection site and hypermetabolic lymph nodes. Various vaccinations and local injections have been known to cause diagnostic dilemma due to false-positive uptake on FDG PET-CT. In this pictorial case review, we present five cases demonstrating various patterns of uptake including an ipsilateral deltoid muscle, axillary, supraclavicular, and subpectoral lymph nodes post COVID-19 vaccination. A careful history of COVID-19 vaccination and normal size and morphology of lymph node on unenhanced low-dose CT will aid the diagnosis. All patients undergoing FDG PET-CT will require detailed documentation of the vaccination history including the time interval since vaccination. Knowledge about these patterns of uptake on PET-CT will ensure accurate interpretation by Nuclear Medicine physicians and radiologists during the current vaccination drive.

Publication types

  • Case Reports