Spanu, Angela and Solinas, Maria E. and Chessa, Francesca and Sanna, Daniela and Nuvoli, Susanna Maria Francesca and Madeddu, Giuseppe (2009) 131I SPECT/CT in the follow-up of differentiated thyroid carcinoma: incremental value versus planar imaging. The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, Vol. 50 (2), p. 184-190. ISSN 0161-5505. Article.
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Planar 131I scintigraphy is routinely used to detect radioiodine-avid metastases of differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC). However, the modality has limitations, such as low sensitivity and lack of anatomic landmarks. We investigated whether SPECT with integrated low-dose CT may have additional value over planar imaging in detecting residue and metastases in DTC patients.
Methods: We studied 117 consecutive thyroidectomized DTC patients. On 2 different hybrid dual-head γ-cameras (55 patients on one camera and 62 on the other), 108 patients underwent 131I diagnostic imaging and SPECT/CT, and 9 underwent posttherapeutic 131I planar imaging and SPECT/CT. We assigned an incremental value to SPECT/CT when it provided better identification and interpretation of the foci of radioiodine uptake, more correct anatomic localization and characterization, and precise differentiation between tumor lesions and physiologic uptake.
Results: Planar imaging showed 116 foci of uptake in 52 of 117 patients, and SPECT/CT showed 158 foci in 59 of 117 patients, confirming all foci seen on planar imaging but identifying an additional 28 occult foci in 10 of 52 patients. Fourteen occult foci were shown on SPECT/CT in 7 further patients whose planar imaging findings were negative. SPECT/CT correctly characterized 48 foci unclear on planar imaging, also defining location and extent. SPECT/CT was a determinant in classifying as neoplastic those foci for which planar imaging seemed to exclude malignancy, discriminating between residue and lymph node metastases in the neck, some of which were adjacent to salivary glands and had been missed on planar imaging. SPECT/CT also showed occult lesions in the mediastinum, abdomen, and pelvis and identified small bone metastases unsuspected on planar imaging. Globally, SPECT/CT had an incremental value over planar imaging in 67.8% of patients, modified therapeutic management in 35.6% of positive cases, and avoided unnecessary treatment in 20.3% of patients with only single benign lesions or physiologic uptake.
Conclusion: 131I SPECT/CT improved planar data interpretation, showing a higher number of DTC lesions, more precisely localizing and characterizing DTC foci, and more correctly differentiating between physiologic uptake and metastases, thus permitting the most appropriate therapeutic approach to be chosen. A wider use of this method is suggested complementary to planar imaging in selected DTC patients.
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