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Br J Cancer. 1996 Apr;73(7):882-6.

PET imaging of primary mediastinal tumours.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine and Radiology, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.


Mediastinal masses include a wide variety of tumours and remain an interesting diagnostic challenge for radiologist. We performed positron emission tomography (PET) studies of primary mediastinal tumours in order to predict the malignancy of these tumours preoperatively. Twenty-two patients with primary mediastinal tumours were studied with PET using 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose (FDG). The histological findings of surgical pathology or biopsy, or mediastinoscopy were compared with those of computerised tomography (CT) and PET. PET images were evaluated semiquantitatively using the differential uptake ratio (DUR). Increased FDG uptake was observed in nine of ten patients with malignant tumours, including thymic carcinomas, lymphomas, invasive thymomas and a case of sarcoidosis. A moderate level of FDG uptake was found in a myeloma, non-invasive thymomas, and a schwannoma, whereas a low uptake was observed in a teratoma and various benign cysts. The mean FDG uptake of malignant tumours was significantly higher than that of benign tumours. Both thymic cancer and invasive thymoma showed a high FDG uptake. CT examination resulted in three false-negative and two false-positive cases when used in predicting tumour invasion, while PET was associated with a false-positive and a false-negative case. In conclusion, the use of FDG with PET is clinically helpful in evaluating the malignant nature of primary mediastinal tumours. Our results also suggest that a high FDG uptake reflects the invasiveness of malignant nature of thymic tumours.

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