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PET/MRI assessment of lung nodules in primary abdominal malignancies: sensitivity and outcome analys

European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. volume 48, pages 1976–1986 (2021)


To evaluate PET/MR lung nodule detection compared to PET/CT or CT, to determine growth of nodules missed by PET/MR, and to investigate the impact of missed nodules on clinical management in primary abdominal malignancies.


This retrospective IRB-approved study included [18F]-FDG PET/MR in 126 patients. All had standard of care chest imaging (SCI) with diagnostic chest CT or PET/CT within 6 weeks of PET/MR that served as standard of reference. Two radiologists assessed lung nodules (size, location, consistency, position, and [18F]-FDG avidity) on SCI and PET/MR. A side-by-side analysis of nodules on SCI and PET/MR was performed. The nodules missed on PET/MR were assessed on follow-up SCI to ascertain their growth (≥ 2 mm); their impact on management was also investigated.


A total of 505 nodules (mean 4 mm, range 1–23 mm) were detected by SCI in 89/126 patients (66M:60F, mean age 60 years). PET/MR detected 61 nodules for a sensitivity of 28.1% for patient and 12.1% for nodule, with higher sensitivity for > 7 mm nodules (< 30% and > 70% respectively, p < 0.05). 75/337 (22.3%) of the nodules missed on PET/MR (follow-up mean 736 days) demonstrated growth. In patients positive for nodules at SCI and negative at PET/MR, missed nodules did not influence patients’ management.


Sensitivity of lung nodule detection on PET/MR is affected by nodule size and is lower than SCI. 22.3% of missed nodules increased on follow-up likely representing metastases. Although this did not impact clinical management in study group with primary abdominal malignancy, largely composed of extra-thoracic advanced stage cancers, with possible different implications in patients without extra-thoracic spread.


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