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Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2002 May;29(5):641-7. Epub 2002 Feb 27.

Influence of rhTSH on [(18)F]fluorodeoxyglucose uptake by differentiated thyroid carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Nuclear Medicine, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Carl-Neuberg-Strasse 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany.


The influence of serum TSH levels on fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake by recurrences or metastases of differentiated thyroid carcinomas has not yet been clarified. The aim of this study was to ascertain whether the administration of recombinant human thyrotropin (rhTSH) stimulates FDG uptake by such lesions. In this prospective study, 30 patients with positive or equivocal thyroglobulin (Tg) levels and negative or equivocal iodine-131 and/or morphological imaging results (ultrasound, MRI, CT) underwent FDG positron emission tomography (PET) under exogenous TSH suppression and under exogenous TSH stimulation of serum levels by injection of rhTSH. The mean interval between the FDG-PET studies under these two conditions was 9.3+/-8.8 weeks. Serum TSH levels and free thyroid hormones were determined on each occasion. FDG uptake was quantitated using tumour to background ratios (TBRs) and standardised uptake values (SUVs). Under TSH suppression there was focal FDG accumulation in nine subjects (22 tumour-like lesions). The total number of foci was 45. After exogenous TSH stimulation, the number of patients in whom FDG foci were detected was 19, and the number of foci identified was 82 (78 tumour-like lesions). TBR of regions showing positive FDG contrast with either of the modalities averaged 2.54+/-1.89, and under stimulated TSH levels, 5.51+/-2.99 ( P<0.0001). Corresponding SUVs were 2.05+/-1.45 versus 2.77+/-1.58 ( P<0.001). In a small number ( n=4) of foci related to inflammatory lymph nodes, TBR and SUV were only marginally increased under TSH stimulation (2.01+/-0.38 and 1.07+/-0.38, respectively), and the values did not differ significantly from those obtained under suppression. These results provide the first direct evidence that TSH stimulates FDG uptake by differentiated thyroid carcinoma and that, therefore, FDG-PET is more accurate under rhTSH than under suppression.

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