FDG uptake in the morphologically normal thymus: Comparison of FDG positron emission tomography and CT

T. Nakahara, H. Fujii, M. Ide, N. Nishiumi, W. Takahashi, S. Yasuda, A. Shohtsu, A. Kubo

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71 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the correlation between fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) thymic uptake and a normal appearing thymus on CT. Non-attenuation corrected FDG positron emission tomography (PET) data from 94 young persons (mean age 25.4 years, range 18-29 years) with a normal thymus diagnosed on CT were retrospectively evaluated. No subject had clinical symptoms suggestive of thymus-related disease or mediastinal tumour (follow-up period 6-69 months). PET images were visually assessed and the count ratio between the thymus and the lung (T/L ratio) was calculated. Increased FDG uptake occurred in 32 (34%) subjects. In these 32 cases, the T/L ratio was 2.86±0.49 (range 2.02-3.99). In 86 subjects whose CT images were available to calculate the CT attenuation of the thymus (CAT), the CAT value was -17.5±45.7 HU (range -103.6 HU to 79.9 HU). The T/L ratio correlated with the CAT value (r=0.58). CAT values in subjects with positive PET findings were significantly higher than CAT values in subjects with negative PET findings (p<0.001, unpaired t-test). These results suggest that even in young adults, if the thymus has a relatively high CT attenuation value, the presence of physiological thymic uptake in FDG-PET is a normal variant. In this study, the diagnosis of normal thymus was based on CT appearance and clinical course. Further studies are needed to clarify the relationship between histopathology and FDG uptake in the thymus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-824
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Journal of Radiology
Issue number885
Publication statusPublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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