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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2004 Apr;127(4):1093-9.

[18F] 3-deoxy-3'-fluorothymidine positron emission tomography: alternative or diagnostic adjunct to 2-[18f]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography in the workup of suspicious central focal lesions?

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  • 1Department of Thoracic and Vascular Surgery, University of Ulm, Germany.



2-[(18)F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) positron emission tomography has been established as a standard diagnostic imaging method in the preoperative workup of suspicious pulmonary focal lesions, showing a sensitivity of more than 90% and a specificity of about 80%. Determination of malignant pulmonary lesions with FDG positron emission tomography depends on the assessment of glucose metabolism. However, false-positive findings can occur in inflammatory processes, such as sarcoidosis or pneumonia. The thymidine analogue 3-deoxy-3[(18)F]-fluorothymidine (FLT) is a new positron emission tomography tracer that more specifically targets proliferative activity of malignant lesions. The objective of this study was to determine whether FLT positron emission tomography, in comparison with FDG positron emission tomography, provides additional information in the preoperative workup of central pulmonary focal lesions.


In this prospective study FLT and FDG positron emission tomography examinations were performed as a part of the preoperative workup in 20 patients with histologically confirmed bronchial carcinoma, 7 patients with benign lesions, and 1 patient with an atypical carcinoid. Results were compared with final pathologic findings.


For staging of the primary tumor, FLT positron emission tomography revealed a sensitivity of 86% and a specificity of 100% compared with a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 73% for FDG positron emission tomography. For N staging, the sensitivity of FLT positron emission tomography was 57% and the specificity was 100%, and for FDG positron emission tomography, the sensitivity was 86% and the specificity was 100%, respectively.


Our preliminary findings indicate specific FLT uptake in malignant lesions. The number of false-positive findings in FDG positron emission tomography might be reduced with FLT positron emission tomography. Therefore positron emission tomography imaging with FLT represents a useful supplement to FDG in assessing the malignancy of central pulmonary focal lesions.

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