Sporadic Primary Pheochromocytoma: A Prospective Intra-Individual Comparison of Six Imaging Tests (CT, MRI, and PET/CT Using 68 Ga-DOTATATE, FDG, 18 F-FDOPA, and 18 F-FDA)

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2021 Aug 25. doi: 10.2214/AJR.21.26071. Online ahead of print.


Background: Recent professional society guidelines for radionuclide imaging of sporadic pheochromocytoma (PHEO) recommend 18F-FDOPA as the radiotracer of choice, deeming 68Ga-DOTATATE and FDG to be secondand third-line agents, respectively. An additional agent, 18F-FDA, remains experimental for PHEO detection. A paucity of research has performed head-to-head comparison among these agents. Purpose: To perform an intra-individual comparison of 68Ga-DOTATATE PET/CT, FDG PET/CT, 18F-FDOPA PET/CT, 18F-FDA PET/CT, CT, and MRI in visualization of sporadic primary PHEO. Methods: This prospective study enrolled patients referred with clinical suspicion for sporadic PHEO. Patients were scheduled for 68Ga-DOTATATE PET/CT, FDG PET/CT, 18F-FDOPA PET/CT, 18F-FDA PET/CT, whole-body staging CT (portal venous phase), and MRI, within a 3-month period. PET/CT examinations were reviewed by two nuclear medicine physicians, and CT and MRI were reviewed by two radiologists; differences were resolved by consensus. Readers scored lesions in terms of confidence in diagnosis of PHEO (1-5 scale; 4-5 considered positive for PHEO). Lesion-to-liver SUVmax was computed using both readers' measurements. Interreader agreement was assessed, using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) for SUVmax. Analysis included only patients with histologically- confirmed PHEO on resection. Results: The analysis included 14 patients (8 women, 6 men; mean age, 52.4±16.8 years) with PHEO. Both 68Ga-DOTATATE PET/CT and FDG PET/CT were completed in 14/14 patients, 18F-FDOPA PET/CT in 11/14, 18F-FDA PET/CT in 7/14, CT in 12/14, and MRI in 12/14. Mean conspicuity score for PHEO was 5.0±0.0 for 18F-FDOPA PET/ CT, 4.7±0.5 for MRI, 4.6±0.8 for 18F-FDA PET/CT, 4.4±1.0 for 68Ga-DOTATATE PET/CT, 4.3±1.0 for CT, and 4.1±1.5 for FDG PET/CT. The positivity rate for PHEO was 100.0% (11/11) for 18F-FDOPA PET/CT, 100.0% (12/12) for MRI, 85.7% (6/7) for 18F-FDA PET/CT, 78.6% (11/14) for FDG PET/CT, 78.6% (11/14) for 68Ga-DOTATATE, and 66.7% (8/12) for CT. Lesion-to-liver SUVmax was 10.5 for 18F-FDOPA versus 3.0-4.2 for the other tracers. Interreader agreement across modalities ranged from 85.7-100.0% for lesion positivity and from ICC=0.55-1.00 for SUVmax measurements. Conclusion: Findings from this small intra-individual comparative study support 18F-FDOPA PET/CT as a preferred firstline imaging modality in evaluation of sporadic PHEO. Clinical Impact: This study provides data supporting current guidelines for imaging evaluation of suspected PHEO.

Keywords: 18F-FDA; 18F-FDG; 18F-FDOPA; 68Ga-DOTATATE; PET/CT; pheochromocytoma; sporadic.