OBJECTIVE - Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) whole body positron emission tomography (PET) scan may show clinically occult second lesions. Such lesions in the thyroid are increasingly common. There are several recent reports of a high probability of malignancy in these lesions ranging from 14% to 63%.
STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING - This is a retrospective review of 15,711 PET scans at a multi-disciplinary thyroid clinic at a tertiary care university medical center. Twenty-two patients were referred with thyroid PET "incidentalomas." The review included 18 FDG-PET scans, ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration biopsies, and thyroid surgery pathology. Aspiration cytology or pathology were the main outcome measures.
RESULTS - Three patients had malignancy of the PET-positive thyroid lesions. Papillary thyroid micro carcinomas were detected in four of the specimens that showed a benign pathology of the dominant nodule.
CONCLUSION - Our experience shows a 14% malignancy rate for the dominant (imaged) nodule and a total malignancy rate of 32% when the incidental micro carcinomas are included. Both of these rates are significantly lower than results published previously.