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HIV Med. 2013 Sep;14(8):455-62. doi: 10.1111/hiv.12030. Epub 2013 Mar 20.

Role and interpretation of fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography in HIV-infected patients with fever of unknown origin: a prospective study.

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Infectious Diseases Department, Saint-Pierre University Hospital, 100 Brussels, Belgium.



The aim of the study was to evaluate prospectively the usefulness of fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) in investigation of fever of unknown origin (FUO) in HIV-positive patients and to determine whether HIV viraemia impacts on FDG-PET/CT performance.


The FDG-PET/CT results of 20 HIV-infected patients with FUO were analysed and compared with the FDG-PET/CT results of 10 HIV-infected viraemic patients without FUO. The performance of FDG-PET/CT for identifying the aetiology of FUO was assessed. Final diagnosis for FUO was based on histopathology, microbiological assays, or clinical and imaging follow-up.


FDG-PET/CT contributed to the diagnosis or exclusion of a focal aetiology of the febrile state in 80% of patients with FUO. The presence of increased FDG uptake in the central lymph node has 100% specificity for focal aetiology of fever, even in viraemic patients. The absence of hypermetabolic central lymph nodes in FUO patients has 100% negative predictive value for focal disease. Lymph node biopsy in central hypermetabolic areas allowed, in 100% of cases, identification of underlying disease in patients with FUO. Biopsy of peripheral lymph nodes should be performed in lymph nodes with maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) ≥ 6-8 (sensitivity 62.5%; specificity 75%) and avoided in lymph nodes with SUVmax = 0-4 (specificity 0%). High HIV viraemia does not prevent correct interpretation of FDG-PET/CT.


As in HIV-negative patients, we confirm the usefulness of FDG-PET/CT in investigation of FUO in HIV-positive patients even if they are viraemic.


HIV; fever of unknown origin; positron emission tomography/computed tomography; viraemia

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