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Mol Imaging Radionucl Ther. 2018 Oct 9;27(3):107-112. doi: 10.4274/mirt.55706.

18F-FDG PET/CT in Patients with Parenchymal Changes Attributed to Radiation Pneumonitis

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Acıbadem City Clinic Cancer Center, Clinic of Nuclear Medicine, Sofia, Bulgaria
The Queen Giovanna Hospital, Sofia, Bulgaria


in English, Turkish


Radiation pneumonitis (RP) can be an adverse complication of radiotherapy (RT) and can limit the application of the already planned radiation dose. It is often associated with RT of lung carcinoma and is occasionally caused by radiation therapy of breast carcinoma and lymphomas located in the mediastinum. Positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) emerges lately as a prospective modality for early diagnostics of RP. The aim of this study was to summarize the initial data from diagnostic application of PET/CT in patients suspicious of RP and to derive criteria, which can help differentiate RP from early recurrence of the disease and/or residual tumor.


The current study included 23 patients who had metabolic (PET) and anatomical (CT) changes consistent with RP. We additionally defined metabolic activity (SUVmax) in the lung parenchyma of 20 patients without RT.


All patients had increased metabolic activity in the lung parenchyma involved in the irradiated area with a mean SUVmax 3.45 (ranging between 1 and 7.1). The control group had a physiological background metabolic activity-SUVmax 0.61 +/- 0.11.


Metabolic changes in patients suspicious of RP involved diffusely increased metabolic activity coinciding with the anatomical changes in the irradiated area. Three out of 23 patients had a proven recurrence of the primary neoplastic process in the irradiated area. The metabolic changes in those patients involved an increase in metabolic activity at follow-up or lack of tendency towards normalization after chemotherapy, which implied the existence of viable tumor cells. Our initial experience in the diagnostic application of 18F-FDG PET/CT in patients suspicious of RP allows us to summarize the following: PET/CT is a reliable imaging modality in the diagnostics of RP. Through its sequential use, we can differentiate inflammatory changes related to RP from early recurrence of the primary neoplastic process.


18F-FDG PET/CT; radiation pneumonitis; radiotherapy; hybrid imaging

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