Updates on 18F-FDG-PET/CT as a clinical tool for tuberculosis evaluation and therapeutic monitoring

Wei-Ye Yu, Pu-Xuan Lu, Majid Assadi, Xi-Ling Huang, Aliaksandr Skrahin, Alex Rosenthal, Andrei Gabrielian, Michael Tartakovsky, Yì Xiáng J. Wáng


Tuberculosis (TB) is currently the world’s leading cause of infectious mortality. The complex immune response of the human body to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) results in a wide array of clinical manifestations, thus the clinical and radiological diagnosis can be challenging. 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (18F-FDG-PET) scan with/without computed tomography (CT) component images the whole body and provides a metabolic map of the infection, enabling clinicians to assess the disease burden. 18F-FDG-PET/CT scan is particularly useful in detecting the disease in previously unknown sites, and allows the most appropriate site of biopsy to be selected. 18F-FDG-PET/CT is also very valuable in assessing early disease response to therapy, and plays an important role in cases where conventional microbiological methods are unavailable and for monitoring response to therapy in cases of multidrug-resistant TB or extrapulmonary TB. 18F-FDG-PET/CT cannot reliably differentiate active TB lesion from malignant lesions and false positives can also be due to other infective or inflammatory conditions. 18F-FDG PET is also unable to distinguish tuberculous lymphadenitis from metastatic lymph node involvement. The lack of specificity is a limitation for 18F-FDG-PET/CT in TB management.