Oncologic significance of unexpected osseous foci on FDG-PET without correlative CT abnormalities

Edgar Zamora, Ana Y. Valdivia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Our purpose was to explore the clinical significance of unexpected osseous foci on 18F-FDG-PET without correlative CT abnormalities (FWCT) in patients referred for oncologic evaluation. The significance of FDG-avid foci without correlative CT abnormalities has been previously explored in tissues such as breast, lung, liver, and prostate; however, osseous foci without correlative CT abnormalities continue to present challenges in diagnostic interpretations. Methods: This study is a retrospective review of 120 osseous FWCT, reported in 91 patients, and their corresponding clinical follow-up. We included only patients with at least 6 months of clinical follow-up leading to a final diagnosis, reviewing bone biopsy results, follow-up imaging, and clinical notes. We excluded those patients on active chemotherapy at the time of the scan. For reports describing > 3 foci, we only analyzed the one with highest maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax). As a measure of uptake intensity, we obtained focus-to-liver ratios (F/L) utilizing their SUVmax and corresponding hepatic 3D SUVmean. Results: Of 91 patients, 74 (81%) had biopsy-confirmed primary malignancies and 17 (19%) had suspicious findings on diagnostic imaging, but no proven primary malignancy. 50 of 120 (42%) osseous foci were malignant and 70 (58%) were benign. 49 of 120 (41%) foci were solitary and 71 (59%) were 0 with other foci (non-solitary). Malignancy resulted from 15/49 (31%) solitary foci and 35/71 (49%) non-solitary foci. Malignant lesions had a mean F/L 2.37 ± 0.397 and benign lesions a mean F/L 1.49 ± 0.169. Osseous malignancy correlated with a higher uptake intensity (Spearman = 0.408; P < 0.01) and was significantly associated with F/L ≥ 2.0 (P < 0.001). Osseous FWCT led to restaging and management modification in 12/91 (13%) patients. Conclusion: Osseous FWCT frequently represent early stages of malignancy. A higher index of suspicion is warranted for osseous FWCT associated with underlying myeloproliferative neoplasms, breast and lung cancer, and moderate (F/L 1.0–2.0) or high (F/L > 2.0) uptake intensity. Interpreting physicians encountering these variables can recommend interval follow-up with 18F-FDG-PET/CT or correlation with contrast-enhanced MRI or tissue biopsy. In patients with an altered biodistribution of 18F-FDG in the bone marrow (e.g., recent chemotherapy cycle), follow-up FDG-PET can be obtained at an appropriate time interval following oncologic treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-359
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Malignancy
  • Metastasis
  • Oncology
  • Osseous foci

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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