Detection of cholangiocarcinoma in primary sclerosing cholangitis by positron emission tomography

Hepatology. 1998 Sep;28(3):700-6. doi: 10.1002/hep.510280316.


Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) predisposes to cholangiocarcinoma (CC), which usually is widespread in the liver at the time of the diagnosis and which has a median survival of approximately 6 months. Positron emission tomography (PET) is a noninvasive scanning method that allows the assessment of metabolism in vivo by means of positron-emitting radiolabeled tracers. [18F]Fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) is a glucose analogue that accumulates in various malignant tumors because of their high glucose metabolic rates. The purpose of the study was to develop a PET method to detect small CC tumors in patients with PSC. PET scanning of the liver was performed after intravenous injection of 200 MBq FDG in 9 patients with PSC, 6 patients with PSC + CC, and 5 controls. The scanning was performed at successive time intervals for a total of 90 minutes with simultaneous successive arterial blood sampling for radioactivity concentration determination. In each of the PSC + CC patients, 2 to 7 "hot spots" were seen, with volumes of 1.0 to 45 mL (median, 4.4 mL). There were no hot spots in the two other patient groups. The localization of hot spots was confirmed by single-blind evaluation. Data were analyzed by the Gjedde-Patlak plot, yielding values of the net metabolic clearance of FDG, K [mL min(-1) 100 mL(-1) tissue]. In the CC hot spots, maximum K values were 1.59 to 4.17 (median, 2.34; n = 6); in the reference liver tissues of these patients, K values were 0.40 to 0.69 (median, 0.49); in PSC patients, they were 0.23 to 0.53 (median, 0.36); and in controls, they were 0.20 to 0.34 (median, 0.31). The difference between K in CC hot spots and the other groups was statistically significant (P < .001). We conclude that FDG-PET seems to be able to detect small CC tumors and may be useful in the therapeutic management of PSC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic*
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / complications*
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18* / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18