What is the role of positron emission tomography (PET) scanning in the workup of fever of unknown origin (FUO)?

Updated: May 17, 2021
  • Author: Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning alone was once fraught with excessive false-positive findings; however, PET combined with CT improves diagnostic capabilities, especially as the causes of FUO have evolved in the past decade. 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET), in which radiolabeled glucose marks foci of increased glucose metabolism, has been used successfully in oncology diagnostics and can also be used to diagnose infectious and noninfectious inflammatory foci. Recent studies recommend using FDG-PET early in the workup of FUO and suggest that including FDG-PET/CT yields a correct diagnosis in 60% to more than 80% of cases. Furthermore, the time to diagnosis may be shortened and invasive procedures reduced, potentially leading to reduced costs and morbidity. Nonetheless, the possibility of false-positive results should be kept in mind. [9, 21, 22, 23]

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