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Fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography and CT After Talc Pleurodesis*

Boon Han Kwek, FRCR; Suzanne L. Aquino, MD; Alan J. Fischman, MD, PhD
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*From the Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA.

Correspondence to: Suzanne L. Aquino, MD, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit St, FND 202, Boston, MA 02114; e-mail: saquino@partners.org



Chest. 2004;125(6):2356-2360. doi:10.1378/chest.125.6.2356
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Background: Talc pleurodesis is widely performed for the management of persistent pneumothorax or pleural effusion, particularly malignant effusions. However, there are very few data characterizing fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-positron emission tomography (PET) and CT findings after treatment.

Methods: We retrospectively evaluated the FDG-PET and CT studies of nine patients who underwent talc pleurodesis for the treatment of malignant pleural effusions or persistent air leak.

Results: FDG-PET studies were performed on average 22 months after talc pleurodesis, and the mean CT follow-up period was 25 months. There was moderate-to-intense plaque-like or focal nodular-increased FDG uptake in the pleura on PET with mean standardized uptake value of 5.4 (SEM, 1.2; range, 2.0 to 16.3). The FDG uptake was either diffuse (two patients) or focal (seven patients), and most commonly occurred in the posterior costophrenic angles (five patients), followed by the apical regions (three patients), anterior costophrenic angle (one patient), and the anterior chest wall (one patient). On CT, high-density areas of pleural thickening or nodularity (mean, 230 Hounsfield units [HU]; SEM, 23 HU; range, 140 to 380 HU) corresponded to regions of increased FDG uptake. These pleural foci had an average thickness of 1.2 cm and measured up to 8.2 cm (mean, 7.1 cm) in length. Rounded pleural nodules were as large as 3.1 cm (mean, 1.5 cm).

Conclusions: Talc pleurodesis produces increased FDG uptake on PET and high-density areas of pleural thickening on CT that remain unchanged on serial imaging. When PET detects increased uptake in the pleural space, correlation with CT is recommended to detect the presence of pleural thickening of increased attenuation that suggests talc deposits rather than tumor.

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