Diagnostic accuracy of 201Thallium-SPECT and 18F-FDG-PET in the clinical assessment of glioma recurrence

  • Manuel Gómez-Río
  • Antonio Rodríguez-FernándezEmail author
  • Carlos Ramos-Font
  • Escarlata López-Ramírez
  • José Manuel Llamas-Elvira
Original article



Reliable differential diagnosis between tumour recurrence and treatment-induced lesions is required to take advantage of new therapeutic approaches to recurrent gliomas. Structural imaging methods offer a high sensitivity but a low specificity, which might be improved by neurofunctional imaging. This study aimed to test the hypothesis that incorporation of 18-fluoro-deoxy-glucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) increases the accuracy of this differential diagnosis obtained with 201Tl chloride-single-photon emission computed tomography (201Tl-SPECT).

Materials and methods

Seventy-six patients (mean age 47.72 ± 16.19 years) under suspicion of glioma recurrence, 42% with low-grade and 58% with high-grade lesions, were studied by 201Tl-SPECT and FDG-PET, reporting results under blinded conditions using visual analysis. Tumour was confirmed by histological confirmation (23 patients) or clinical and structural neuroimaging follow-up (mean of 2.6 years).


This population had a high disease prevalence (72%). Globally, highest sensitivity was obtained using 201Tl-SPECT assessed with MRI (96%) and highest specificity using FDG-PET + MRI (95%). FDG-PET appeared slightly better for confirming tumour recurrence, whereas 201Tl-SPECT was superior for ruling out possible recurrence (disease present in 38% of FDG-PET negative explorations). In the high-grade subgroup, there were no false-positive examinations (specificity: 100%), but sensitivity differed among techniques (201Tl-SPECT: 94%; 201Tl-SPECT + MRI: 97%; FDG-PET + MRI: 83%). In the low-grade subgroup, 201Tl-SPECT+ MRI showed highest sensitivity (95%) and lowest posttest negative probability (9%); FDG-PET + MRI offered highest specificity (92%) with a posttest negative probability of 35%.


FDG-PET does not clearly improve the diagnostic accuracy of 201Tl-SPECT, which appears to be a more appropriate examination for the diagnosis of possible brain tumour recurrence, especially for ruling it out.


Glioma recurrence Radionecrosis Tl-201•SPECT FDG-PET Diagnostic accuracy 



The authors are grateful to Richard Davies for assistance with the English version and to Pablo Lardelli-Claret for study design and data analysis supervision.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel Gómez-Río
    • 1
  • Antonio Rodríguez-Fernández
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carlos Ramos-Font
    • 1
  • Escarlata López-Ramírez
    • 1
  • José Manuel Llamas-Elvira
    • 1
  1. 1.Nuclear Medicine Department, “Virgen de las Nieves”University HospitalGranadaSpain

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