Clinical value of F-18-fluorodihydroxyphenylalanine positron emission tomography/computed tomography (F-18-DOPA PET/CT) for detecting pheochromocytoma

Markus Luster*, Wolfram Karges, Katrin Zeich, Sandra Pauls, Frederik A. Verburg, Henning Dralle, Gerhard Glatting, Andreas K. Buck, Christoph Solbach, Bernd Neumaier, Sven N. Reske, Felix M. Mottaghy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In detecting pheochromocytoma (PHEO), positron emission tomography (PET) with the radiolabelled amine precursor (18)F-fluorodihydroxyphenylalanine ((18)F-DOPA) offers excellent specificity, while computed tomography (CT) provides high sensitivity and ability to localize lesions; therefore, the combination of these modalities could be advantageous in this setting. The aim of this study was to investigate whether combined (18)F-DOPA PET/CT more accurately detects and localizes PHEO lesions than does each modality alone.(18)F-DOPA PET, CT and (18)F-DOPA PET/CT images of 25 consecutive patients undergoing diagnostic scanning of suspected sporadic or multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 syndrome-associated PHEO were reviewed retrospectively in randomized sequence. Two blinded observers scored the images regarding the likelihood of PHEO being present and localizable. Results were correlated with subsequent clinical history and, when available, histology.Of the 19 lesions detected by all three modalities, PET identified each as positive for PHEO, but was unable to definitively localize 15 of 19 (79%). CT could definitively localize all 19 lesions, but could not definitively diagnose or exclude PHEO in 18 of 19 (95%) lesions. Furthermore, CT falsely identified as negative for PHEO one lesion which was judged to be positive for this tumor by both PET and PET/CT. Only in PET/CT scans were all 19 lesions accurately characterized and localized. On a per-patient basis, the sensitivity of (18)F-DOPA PET/CT for PHEO was 100% and the specificity 88%, with a 100% positive predictive value and an 88% negative predictive value.(18)F-DOPA PET/CT more accurately diagnoses and localizes adrenal and extra-adrenal masses suspicious for PHEO than do (18)F-DOPA PET or CT alone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-493
JournalEuropean Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2)
  • F-18-fluorodihydroxyphenylalanine (F-18-DOPA)
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Staging

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