, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 222-227
Date: 21 Dec 2011

Intratumoral heterogeneity of F-18 FDG uptake differentiates between gastrointestinal stromal tumors and abdominal malignant lymphomas on PET/CT



Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) and malignant lymphomas (MLs) in the abdomen are often observed as tumors of unknown origin on F-18 FDG PET/CT. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the intratumoral metabolic heterogeneity of F-18 FDG uptake on PET to determine if it might be helpful to discriminate between these tumors.


The F-18 FDG PET/CT findings of 21 large abdominal tumors were retrospectively evaluated (9 GISTs and 12 MLs). Intratumoral heterogeneity was evaluated by visual scoring (visual score: 0, homogeneous; 1, slightly heterogeneous; 2, moderately heterogeneous; 3, highly heterogeneous) and by the cumulative standardized uptake value (SUV) histograms on transaxial PET images at the maximal cross-sectional tumor diameter. Percent tumor areas above a threshold from 0 to 100% of the maximum SUV were plotted and the area under curve of the cumulative SUV histograms (AUC-CSH) was used as a heterogeneity index, where lower values corresponded with increased heterogeneity. Correlation between the visual score and the AUC-CSH was investigated by the Spearman’s rank test.


GISTs exhibited heterogeneous uptake of F-18 FDG, whereas MLs showed rather homogeneous uptake on visual analysis (visual score: 2.67 ± 0.50 and 0.58 ± 0.79, respectively; p < 0.001). The AUC-CSH was significantly lower for the GISTs than for the MLs (0.41 ± 0.14 and 0.64 ± 0.08, respectively; p < 0.001). Significant correlations were observed between the visual score and the AUC-CSH (ρ = −0.866, p < 0.001).


GISTs exhibited significantly heterogeneous intratumoral tracer uptake as compared with the MLs. Evaluation of the intratumoral heterogeneity of F-18 FDG uptake may help in the discrimination between these tumors.