To determine the efficacy of combined positron emission tomography–computed tomography (PET-CT) in identifying recurrent thyroid cancer and to elucidate its role in the clinical management of thyroid carcinoma.
Tertiary care referral academic center.
One hundred twenty-four patients with previously treated thyroid carcinoma who underwent PET-CT.
Main Outcome Measures
PET-CT images were correlated with clinicopathologic information. The influence of PET-CT findings on disease status determination and the treatment plan was evaluated.
Among 121 patients undergoing iodine I 131 (131I) imaging (an 131I image was unavailable for 3 patients), 80.6% had negative findings on 131I imaging before undergoing PET-CT. Among 75 patients who had positive findings on PET-CT, 71 were true positive results. Among 49 patients who had negative findings on PET-CT, 32 were true negative results. Therefore, PET-CT demonstrated a sensitivity of 80.7%, specificity of 88.9%, positive predictive value of 94.7%, and negative predictive value of 65.3%. A significant difference was noted in the mean serum thyroglobulin levels between patients with positive vs negative PET-CT findings (192.1 vs 15.0 ng/mL, P = .01) (to convert thyroglobulin level to micrograms per liter, multiply by 1.0). Overall, distant metastases were detected in 20.2% of patients using PET-CT. There was an alteration of the treatment plan in 28.2% of patients as a result of added PET-CT information, and 21.0% of patients underwent additional surgery.
PET-CT is usually performed in patients with thyroid cancer having elevated thyroglobulin levels but non-131I–avid tumors and has high diagnostic accuracy for identifying local, regional, and distant metastases. Additional information from PET-CT in patients with 131I-negative and thyroglobulin-positive tumors frequently guides the clinical management of recurrent thyroid carcinoma.