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Detection rate of radiolabelled choline PET or PET/CT in hepatocellular carcinoma: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis

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Different imaging methods have been used to detect hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). As there are increasing literature data about the role of radiolabelled choline PET/CT in this setting, we aimed to perform an updated meta-analysis about the detection rate (DR) of this imaging method in HCC.


A comprehensive computer literature search of studies published through December 2018 in PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase and Cochrane library databases regarding the DR of radiolabelled choline PET or PET/CT in patients with HCC was carried out. Pooled DR were calculated on a per patient- and on a per lesion-based analysis. Subgroup analyses taking into account the radiopharmaceutical used were performed.


Nine studies (283 HCC patients) were included in the pooled analysis. The pooled DR of radiolabelled choline PET or PET/CT on a per patient- and on a per lesion-based analysis was 83% [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 75–89%] and 79% (95% CI 72–86%), respectively. A significant heterogeneity among the studies was found on a per lesion-based analysis only. No significant publication bias was found. The subgroup analysis demonstrated a trend towards a higher DR when using 18F-choline compared to 11C-choline, without a statistically significant difference. Pooled DR of HCC using dual-tracer PET/CT (radiolabelled choline and 18F-FDG) on a per patient- and a per lesion-based analysis was 91% (95% CI 87–95%) and 89% (95% CI 80–95%), respectively, without significant heterogeneity.


Radiolabelled choline PET/CT demonstrated good ability in detecting HCC. The DR increased when dual-tracer PET/CT was performed. Large multicenter studies and cost-effectiveness analyses are warranted.

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Correspondence to Giorgio Treglia.

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Signore, G., Nicod-Lalonde, M., Prior, J.O. et al. Detection rate of radiolabelled choline PET or PET/CT in hepatocellular carcinoma: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Transl Imaging 7, 237–253 (2019).

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