Imaging medullary thyroid carcinoma with persistent elevated calcitonin levels

Anne Laure Giraudet, Daniel Vanel, Sophie Leboulleux, Anne Aupérin, Clarisse Dromain, Linda Chami, Noël Ny Tovo, Jean Lumbroso, Nathalie Lassau, Guillaume Bonniaud, Dana Hartl, Jean Paul Travagli, Eric Baudin, Martin Schlumberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Because calcitonin level remains elevated after initial treatment in many medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) patients without evidence of disease in the usual imaging work-up, there is a need to define optimal imaging procedures. Patients and Methods: Fifty-five consecutive elevated calcitonin level MTC patients were enrolled to undergo neck and abdomen ultrasonography (US); neck, chest, and abdomen spiral computed tomography (CT); liver and whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); bone scintigraphy; and 2-[fluorine-18]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/CT scan (PET). Results: Fifty patients underwent neck US, CT, and PET, and neck recurrence was demonstrated in 56, 42, and 32%, respectively. Lung and mediastinum lymph node metastases in the 55 patients were demonstrated in 35 and 31% by CT and in 15 and 20% by PET. Liver imaging with MRI, CT, US, and PET in 41 patients showed liver in 49, 44, 41, and 27% patients, respectively. Bone metastases in 55 patients were demonstrated in 35% by PET, 40% by bone scintigraphy, and 40% by MRI; bone scintigraphy was complementary with MRI for axial lesions but superior for the detection of peripheral lesions. Ten patients had no imaged tumor site despite elevated calcitonin level (median 196 pg/ml; range 39-816). FDG uptake in neoplastic foci was higher in progressive patients but with a considerable overlap with stable ones. Conclusion: The most efficient imaging work-up for depicting MTC tumor sites would consist of a neck US, chest CT, liver MRI, bone scintigraphy, and axial skeleton MRI. FDG PET scan appeared to be less sensitive and of low prognostic value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4185-4190
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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