The objective of this study was to establish the clinical value of 18F-DOPA PET/CT in patients with adrenal and extra-adrenal paragangliomas (PGLs).
Twenty-six consecutive patients with suspected or recurrent PGL underwent MR (and/or CT) and 18F-DOPA PET/CT. Histopathology confirmation was obtained in 20 cases. Genetic analysis on known susceptibility genes for PGL (VHL, RET, SDHx, TMEM127) was available in 13 patients.
Fourteen patients were affected by PGL (8 with head/neck location, 6 with abdominal/thoracic location), whereas 12 showed masses of other origin. Three patients proved to be SDHD, 1 SDHB, 2 SDHC, and 1 TMEM127 mutation carriers. 18F-DOPA PET/CT showed pathological uptake in 13 of 26 patients. The procedure identified all PGLs except one with bone metastases (previous malignant adrenal PGL). No uptake was found in patients without proven PGL. Thus, in the whole group, 18F-DOPA PET/CT sensitivity was 92.8%, and specificity was 100% with positive and negative predictive values of 100% and 92.3%, respectively. Total diagnostic accuracy was 96.2%. In the head/neck subgroup, sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and diagnostic accuracy were 100%. In the abdominal location, sensitivity was 80% and specificity was 100%, and positive and negative predictive values were 100% and 91.7%, respectively. Abdominal diagnostic accuracy was 93.7%. Radiotracer uptake was superimposable in head/neck PGLs versus abdominal PGLs and in mutated versus wild-type patients.
The high diagnostic performance of 18F-DOPA PET/CT showed this technique to be a useful tool in detecting PGLs, above all those located at the head/neck site, regardless of the genetic pattern.