Filip Gemmel, Paul C. Rijk, James M. P. Collins, Thierry Parlevliet, Katrin D. Stumpe, Christopher J. Palestro

March 2010, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 540 - 551 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-009-1251-y

First Online: 06 January 2010

18F-fluoro-d-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography ([18F]-FDG PET) is successfully employed as a molecular imaging technique in oncology, and has become a promising imaging modality in the field of infection. The non-invasive diagnosis of spinal infections (SI) has been a challenge for physicians for many years. Morphological imaging modalities such as conventional radiography, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are techniques frequently used in patients with SI. However, these methods are sometimes non-specific, and difficulties in differentiating infectious from degenerative end-plate abnormalities or postoperative changes can occur. Moreover, in contrast to CT and MRI, FDG uptake in PET is not hampered by metallic implant-associated artifacts. Conventional radionuclide imaging tests, such as bone scintigraphy, labeled leukocyte, and gallium scanning, suffer from relatively poor spatial resolution and lack sensitivity, specificity, or both. Initial data show that [18F]-FDG PET is an emerging imaging technique for diagnosing SI. [18F]-FDG PET appears to be especially helpful in those cases in which MRI cannot be performed or is non-diagnostic, and as an adjunct in patients in whom the diagnosis is inconclusive. The article reviews the currently available literature on [18F]-FDG PET and PET/CT in the diagnosis of SI.

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