Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the incremental value of 131I-MIBG hybrid SPECT-CT over planar scintigraphy (PS) and SPECT alone in patients with clinical or biochemical suspicion of pheochromocytoma.
Methods: A total of 126 adrenals of 63 patients (mean [SD] age, 28.6 [15.7] years; male patients, n = 34; female patients, n = 29) with clinical or biochemical suspicion of pheochromocytoma were retrospectively evaluated. All patients had undergone 131I-MIBG SPECT-CT of adrenal region. The PS, SPECT, and SPECT-CT images were independently evaluated by 2 nuclear medicine physicians with 6 years (R1) and 2 years (R2) experience and in separate sessions 1 week apart. A scoring scale of 1 to 5 was used, in which 1 is definitely abnormal, 2 is probably abnormal, 3 is indeterminate, 4 is probably normal, and 5 is definitely normal. Sensitivity, specificity, predictive values were calculated taking a score 2 or less as abnormal. With receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis, areas under the curve (AUC) were calculated for each modality and compared. Histopathology and/or clinical/imaging follow-up were taken as reference standard.
Results: Of the 126 adrenals evaluated, 29 were indeterminate on PS for R1 and 48 for R2, 39 were indeterminate on SPECT for both, and on SPECT-CT, 1 was indeterminate for R1 and 2 for R2. SPECT-CT correctly characterized 28 of 29 indeterminate adrenals on PS and 37 of 39 indeterminate adrenals on SPECT for R1. Similarly, for R2, SPECT-CT correctly characterized 45 of 48 indeterminate adrenals on PS and 33 of 39 indeterminate adrenals on SPECT. On ROC comparison, PS was inferior to SPECT (P = 0.040 for R1; P < 0.001 for R2) and SPECT-CT (P = 0.001 for R1; P < 0.001 for R2) for both the observers. Moreover, SPECT was inferior to SPECT-CT for both the observers (P = 0.017 for R1 and P = 0.001 for R2). Accuracy of SPECT-CT (R1, 97.6%; R2, 97.6%) was higher than PS (R1, 91.2%; R2, 84.1%) and SPECT (R1, 94.4%; R2, 86.5%). Interobserver agreement was highest for SPECT-CT (κ = 0.966) as compared with PS (κ = 0.815) and SPECT (κ = 0.826).
Conclusions: 131I-MIBG hybrid SPECT-CT shows high sensitivity and specificity for characterizing adrenal lesions in patients with clinical or biochemical suspicion of pheochromocytoma and is superior to PS and SPECT alone. It will be especially useful in countries where 123I-MIBG is not available.