Send to

Choose Destination
J Nucl Med. 2007 Oct;48(10):1599-606. Epub 2007 Sep 14.

The effects of carbidopa on uptake of 6-18F-Fluoro-L-DOPA in PET of pheochromocytoma and extraadrenal abdominal paraganglioma.

Author information

Reproductive Biology and Medicine Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1109, USA.


6-(18)F-fluoro-l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine ((18)F-DOPA) PET is a useful tool for the detection of certain neuroendocrine tumors, especially with the preadministration of carbidopa, an inhibitor of DOPA decarboxylase. Whether carbidopa also improves (18)F-DOPA PET of adrenal pheochromocytomas and extraadrenal paragangliomas is unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the sensitivity of (18)F-DOPA PET in the detection of paraganglioma and its metastatic lesions and to evaluate whether tracer uptake by the tumors is enhanced by carbidopa.


Two patients with nonmetastatic adrenal pheochromocytoma, and 9 patients with extraadrenal abdominal paraganglioma (1 nonmetastatic, 8 metastatic), underwent whole-body CT, MRI, baseline (18)F-DOPA PET, and (18)F-DOPA PET with oral preadministration of 200 mg of carbidopa. The dynamics of tracer uptake by these lesions and the physiologic distribution of (18)F-DOPA in normal tissues were recorded.


Seventy-eight lesions were detected by CT or MRI, 54 by baseline (18)F-DOPA PET (P = 0.0022 vs. CT/MRI), and 57 by (18)F-DOPA PET plus carbidopa (P = 0.0075 vs. CT/MRI, not statistically significant vs. baseline). In reference to findings on CT and MRI, the sensitivities of baseline (18)F-DOPA PET were 47.4% for lesions and 55.6% for positive body regions, versus 50.0% (lesions) and 66.7% (regions) for (18)F-DOPA PET plus carbidopa (neither is statistically significant vs. baseline). Compared with baseline, carbidopa detected additional lesions in 3 (27%) of 11 patients. Carbidopa increased the mean (+/-SD) peak standardized uptake value in index tumor lesions from 6.4 +/- 3.9 to 9.1 +/- 5.6 (P = 0.037). Pancreatic physiologic (18)F-DOPA uptake, which may mask adrenal pheochromocytoma, is blocked by carbidopa.


Carbidopa enhances the sensitivity of (18)F-DOPA PET for adrenal pheochromocytomas and extraadrenal abdominal paragangliomas by increasing the tumor-to-background ratio of tracer uptake. The sensitivity of (18)F-DOPA PET for metastases of paraganglioma appears to be limited.

Comment in

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center