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J Urol. 2004 May;171(5):1806-9.

Clinical use of fluorodeoxyglucose F 18 positron emission tomography for detection of renal cell carcinoma.

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Department of Urology, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.



We evaluate the role of fluorodeoxyglucose F 18 positron emission tomography (PET) in patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) by retrospective review. To our knowledge this series is the largest reviewing the use of PET in patients with RCC.


A total of 66 patients who underwent 90 PET scans for suspected or known RCC were identified. Dictated reports of PET, chest computerized tomography (CT), abdominal/pelvic CT and bone scan were examined with confirmation of results by histopathology or followup of at least 1 year. The accuracies of PET and conventional imaging modalities were compared.


PET exhibited a sensitivity of 60% and specificity of 100% for primary RCC tumors (abdominal CT demonstrated 91.7% sensitivity and 100% specificity). For retroperitoneal lymph node metastases and/or renal bed recurrence, PET was 75.0% sensitive and 100.0% specific (92.6% sensitivity and 98.1% specificity for abdominal CT). PET had a sensitivity of 75.0% and a specificity of 97.1% for metastases to the lung parenchyma compared to 91.1% and 73.1%, respectively, for chest CT. PET had a sensitivity of 77.3% and specificity of 100.0% for bone metastases, compared to 93.8% and 87.2% for combined CT and bone scan. In 39 scans (32 patients) PET failed to detect RCC lesions identified by conventional imaging.


The role of fluorodeoxyglucose F 18 PET in the detection of RCC is limited by low sensitivity. With superior specificity PET may have a complementary role as a problem solving tool in cases that are equivocal on conventional imaging.

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