FDG PET in Evaluation of Patients With Fever of Unknown Origin: AJR Expert Panel Narrative Review
Christopher J Palestro, David C Brandon, Elizabeth H Dibble, Zohar Keidar, Jennifer J Kwak
AJR Am J Roentgenol . 2023 Aug;221(2):151-162. doi: 10.2214/AJR.22.28726. Epub 2023 Feb 1.
Fever of unknown origin (FUO) is a diagnostic challenge, with its cause remaining undiagnosed in approximately half of patients. Nuclear medicine tests typically are performed after a negative or inconclusive initial workup. Gallium-67 citrate and labeled leukocytes were previous mainstays of radionuclide imaging for FUO, although they had limited diagnostic performance. FDG PET/CT has subsequently emerged as the nuclear medicine imaging test of choice, supported by a growing volume of evidence. A positive FDG PET/CT result contributes useful information by identifying potential causes of fever, localizing sites for further evaluation, and guiding further management; a negative result contributes useful information by excluding focal disease as the cause of fever and predicts a favorable prognosis. In 2021, CMS rescinded a prior national noncoverage determination for FDG PET for infection and inflammation, leading to increasing national utilization of FDG PET/CT for FUO workup. This article reviews the current status of the role of FDG PET/CT in the evaluation of patients with FUO. The literature reporting the diagnostic performance and yield of FDG PET/CT in FUO workup is summarized, with comparison with historically used nuclear medicine tests included. Attention is also given to the test's clinical impact; protocol, cost, and radiation considerations; and application in children.