18F-FDG PET/CT Metabolic Tumor Volume and Intratumoral Heterogeneity in Pancreatic Adenocarcinomas: Impact of Dual-Time Point and Segmentation Methods

Esther Mena, Sara Sheikhbahaei, Mehdi Taghipour, Abhinav K. Jha, Esther Vicente, Jennifer Xiao, Rathan M. Subramaniam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Objectives We aimed to determine the consistency of quantitative PET measurements of metabolic tumor volume (MTV) and intratumoral heterogeneity index for primary untreated pancreatic adenocarcinomas, when using dual-time point 18F-FDG PET/CT imaging. Methods This is an institutional review board-approved, retrospective study including 71 patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, who underwent dual-time point 18F-FDG PET/CT imaging, at approximately 1 hour (early) and 2 hours (delayed), after injection. Automated gradient-based and 50% SUVmax-threshold segmentation methods were used to assess the primary tumor MTV and metabolic intratumoral heterogeneity index, calculated as the area under cumulative SUV-volume histograms (AUC-CSH), with lower AUC-CHS indexes corresponding to higher degrees of tumor heterogeneity. We defined that more than a ±10% change in MTV or AUC-CSH, compared with baseline, as clinically significant. Results Seventy-one FDG-avid pancreatic tumors were identified, with an average tumor diameter of 3.4 ± 0.9 cm (range, 1.5-6.4 cm). Metabolic tumor volume values remained consistent between early and delayed imaging when using the gradient PET segmentation method (P = 0.086), whereas statistically significant change was seen when using 50% SUVmax-threshold segmentation (P < 0.001). A decrease in more than 10% change in MTV (% ΔMTV) was observed in 70.4% (50/71) tumors, and 7.0% (5/71) of the tumors showed an increase more than 10 % ΔMTV, when using the 50% SUVmax-threshold segmentation. AUC-CSH indexes showed statistically significant differences between early and delayed time points (P < 0.001), when using the gradient segmentation. AUC-CSH index decreased by 10% or greater in 40.8% (29/71) of the tumors. AUC-CSH index remained stable between early and delayed when using the 50% SUVmax-threshold segmentation (P = 0.148) with percentage of change of less than 10% for all tumors. Conclusions Metabolic tumor volume was relatively stable between early and delayed time points when PET gradient segmentation was used but changed greater than 10% in 77.4% of the tumors at delayed time point when threshold segmentation was used. The tumor heterogeneity index (AUC-CSH) changed greater than 10% in 40.8% of tumors at delayed imaging, when gradient segmentation was used but remained stable when threshold segmentation was used. It is important to standardize uptake time and segmentation methods to use FDG PET MTV and heterogeneity index as imaging biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e16-e21
JournalClinical Nuclear Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017



  • dual time point
  • intratumoral heterogeneity
  • metabolic tumor volume
  • pancreatic adenocarcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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