DOI: 10.1007/s00259-018-4156-3Pages: 54-64

Practice-based evidence for the clinical benefit of PET/CT—results of the first oncologic PET/CT registry in Germany

1. Eberhard-Karls-University Tuebingen, Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology

2. Eberhard-Karls-University Tuebingen, Institute of Clinical Epidemiology and Applied Biostatistics

3. University Hospital Basel, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology

4. Eberhard-Karls-University Tuebingen, Department of Nuclear Medicine and Clinical Molecular Imaging

Correspondence to:
Christina Pfannenberg
Tel: +49-7071-2982756




The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of PET/CT on clinical management of cancer patients based on a prospective data registry. The study was developed to inform consultations with public health insurances on PET/CT coverage.


We evaluated a prospective patient cohort having a clinically indicated PET/CT at a single German University Center from April 2013 to August 2016. The registry collected questionnaire data from requesting physicians on intended patient management before and after PET/CT. A total of 4,504 patients with 5,939 PET/CT examinations were enrolled in the registry, resulting in evaluable data from 3,724 patients receiving 4,754 scans. The impact of PET/CT on patient management was assessed across 22 tumor types, for different indications (diagnosis, staging, suspected recurrence) and different categories of management including treatment (curative or palliative) and non-treatment (watchful waiting, additional imaging, invasive tests).


The most frequent PET/CT indication was tumor staging (59.7%). Melanoma, lung cancer, lymphoma, neuroendocrine tumor and prostate cancer accounted for 70% of cases. Overall, the use of PET/CT resulted in a 37.1% change of clinical management (95% CI, 35.7–38.5), most frequently (30.6%) from an intended non-treatment strategy before PET/CT to active treatment after PET/CT. The frequency of changes ranged from 28.3% for head and neck cancers up to 46.0% for melanomas. The impact of PET/CT was greatest in reducing demands for additional imaging which decreased from 66.1% before PET/CT to 6.1% after PET/CT. Pre-PET/CT planned invasive tests could be avoided in 72.7% of cases. The treatment goal changed after PET/CT in 21.7% of cases, in twice as many cases from curative to palliative therapy than vice versa.


The data of this large prospective registry confirm that physicians often change their intended management on the basis of PET/CT by initiating treatment and reducing additional imaging as well as invasive tests. This applies to various cancer types and indications.

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  • Accepted: Sep 4, 2018
  • Online: Sep 29, 2018

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