Insulinomas are predominantly benign neuroendocrine tumors originating from beta cells within the islets of Langerhans of the endocrine pancreas. Because surgical resection represents the only curative therapy option, exact tumor localization and discrimination of insulinomas from focal or diffuse manifestations of congenital hyperinsulinism are crucial for optimal treatment strategies. We investigated the diagnostic value of glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor PET/CT using 68Ga-DOTA-exendin 4 for detecting insulinomas and compared the diagnostic value of PET scans performed at 2 time points.
In 10 patients with clinically and biochemically suspected insulinoma, PET/CT was performed at 1 hour (PET1) and 2 hours (PET2) after injection of 68Ga-DOTA-exendin 4. In this retrospective analysis, tracer uptake was visually assessed in both scans by 2 independent readers. SUVmax and tumor-to-background ratio (TBR) of focal lesions were assessed. Imaging results were compared with histopathologic findings, if patients underwent resection.
Increased focal 68Ga-DOTA-exendin 4 uptake was observed in 8 of 10 patients concordantly by both readers. Seven patients with focal uptake underwent surgery with tumor enucleation and histopathologic proof of insulinoma (7/8). Two of 10 patients without focal uptake were considered to suffer from diffuse form of congenital hyperinsulinism and consequently received medical treatment. A significant increase of tumoral SUVmax on PET2 (PET1: SUVmax 20.2 ± 8.2 g/mL; PET2: SUVmax 24.7 ± 7.9 g/mL; P = 0.0018) did not result in a significant improvement in TBR (PET1: TBR 4.9 ± 1.7; PET2: TBR 4.3 ± 1.2; P = 0.2892).
Focal uptake of 68Ga-DOTA-exendin 4 reliably indicated insulinomas as histopathologically confirmed in all patients undergoing consecutive surgery. The diagnostic value of PET2 was not found to be superior to PET1, indicating that a single 1-hour 68Ga-DOTA-exendin 4 PET/CT scan is a sufficient and convenient approach for patient care.