DOI: 10.1007/s00259-016-3605-0Pages: 979-987

Head-to-head comparison between 18F-FDOPA PET/CT and MR/CT angiography in clinically recurrent head and neck paragangliomas

1. University Hospitals of Strasbourg, Department of Biophysics and Nuclear Medicine

2. CNRS/University of Strasbourg, ICube, UMR 7357

3. University of Strasbourg, FMTS, Faculty of Medicine

4. University Hospitals of Strasbourg, Department of Radiology

5. Aix-Marseille University, Department of Nuclear Medicine, La Timone University Hospital

6. Aix-Marseille University, European Center for Research in Medical Imaging

7. Institut Paoli-Calmettes, Inserm UMR1068 Marseille Cancerology Research Center

8. University Hospitals of Strasbourg, Department of Internal Medicine

9. University Hospitals of Strasbourg, Department of Otolaryngology and Maxillofacial Surgery

10. University Hospitals of Strasbourg, Department of Pathology

11. Hautepierre University Hospital, Biophysics and Nuclear Medicine

Correspondence to:
Alessio Imperiale
Tel: +33388127552




Head and neck paragangliomas (HNPGLs) can relapse after primary treatment. Optimal imaging protocols have not yet been established for posttreatment evaluation. The aim of the present study was to assess the diagnostic value of 18F-FDOPA PET/CT and MR/CT angiography (MRA/CTA) in HNPGL patients with clinical relapse during their follow-up.


Sixteen consecutive patients presenting with local pain, tinnitus, dysphagia, hoarse voice, cranial nerve involvement, deafness, or retrotympanic mass appearing during follow-up after the initial treatment of HNPGLs were retrospectively evaluated. Patients underwent both 18F-FDOPA PET/CT and MRA (15 patents) or CTA (1 patent). Both methods were first assessed under blinded conditions and afterwards correlated. Head and neck imaging abnormalities without histological confirmation were considered true-positive results based on a consensus between radiologists and nuclear physicians and on further 18F-FDOPA PET/CT and/or MRA.


18F-FDOPA PET/CT and MRA/CTA were concordant in 14 patients and in disagreement in 2 patients. 18F-FDOPA PET/CT and MRA/CTA identified, respectively, 12 and 10 presumed recurrent HNPGLs in 12 patients. The two lesions diagnosed by PET/CT only were confirmed during follow-up by otoscopic examination and MRA performed 29 and 17 months later. 18F-FDOPA PET/CT images were only slightly influenced by the posttreatment sequelae, showing a better interobserver reproducibility than MRA/CTA. Finally, in 2 of the 16 studied patients, 18F-FDOPA PET/CT detected two additional synchronous primary HNPGLs.


18F-FDOPA PET/CT is highly sensitive in posttreatment evaluation of patients with HNPGLs, and also offers better interobserver reproducibility than MRA/CTA and whole-body examination. We therefore suggest that 18F-FDOPA PET/CT is performed as the first diagnostic imaging modality in symptomatic patients with suspicion of HNPGL relapse after primary treatment when 68Ga-labeled somatostatin analogues are not available.

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  • Accepted: Dec 20, 2016
  • Online: Jan 3, 2017

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