Background: Solitary pulmonary nodule (SPN) still represents a diagnostic challenge. The aim of our study was to evaluate the diagnostic performance of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography-computed tomography in one of the largest samples of small SPNs, incidentally detected in subjects without a history of malignancy (nonscreening population) and undetermined at computed tomography. Methods: One-hundred and sixty-two small (>0.8 to 1.5 cm) and, for comparison, 206 large nodules (>1.5 to 3 cm) were retrospectively evaluated. Diagnostic performance of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose visual analysis, receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) analysis for maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax), and Bayesian analysis were assessed using histology or radiological follow-up as a golden standard. Results: In 162 small nodules, 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose visual and ROC analyses (SUVmax = 1.3) provided 72.6% and 77.4% sensitivity and 88.0% and 82.0% specificity, respectively. The prevalence of malignancy was 38%; Bayesian analysis provided 78.8% positive and 16.0% negative posttest probabilities of malignancy. In 206 large nodules 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose visual and ROC analyses (SUVmax = 1.9) provided 89.5% and 85.1% sensitivity and 70.8% and 79.2% specificity, respectively. The prevalence of malignancy was 65%; Bayesian analysis provided 85.0% positive and 21.6% negative posttest probabilities of malignancy. In both groups, malignant nodules had a significant higher SUVmax (p <0.0001) than benign nodules. Only in the small group, malignant nodules were significantly larger (p = 0.0054) than benign ones. Conclusions: 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose can be clinically relevant to rule in and rule out malignancy in undetermined small SPNs, incidentally detected in nonscreening population with intermediate pretest probability of malignancy, as well as in larger ones. Visual analysis can be considered an optimal diagnostic criterion, adequately detecting a wide range of malignant nodules with different metabolic activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine