Applications of Positron Emission Tomography in Liver Imaging: An Overview

  • Amir H. Khandani
Part of the Methods of Cancer Diagnosis, Therapy and Prognosis book series (HAYAT, volume 5)

While positron emission tomography (PET) has been used for several decades in the research setting, its clinical use has grown substantially in the past decade. This is a quantitative physiological imaging modality utilizing positron emitters such as Fluorine-18, Oxygen-15, Nitrogen-13 and Carbon-11. The fact that several of these nuclides are components of common biological molecules makes PET particularly suitable to visually capture different biologic pathways; however, the short physical half-life of Oxygen-15 (2 min), Nitrogen-13 (10 min), and Carbon-11 (20 min) limits their utilization to the centers with an on-site cyclotron. Fluorine-18 has a physical half-life of 110 min and can be synthesized in commercially operating cyclotrons and transported to remote PET facilities. The most commonly used radiotracer is 2-[18F] fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG).

Tumor imaging with FDG is based on the principle of increased glucose metabolism of cancer cells. Like glucose, FDG is taken up by the cancer cells through facilitative glucose transporters (Glut). These transporters are glycoproteins, and so far, 12 isoforms have been identified in different organs. Normal hepatocytes express Glut2, Glut9, and Glut10 (Joost and Thorens, 2001). Expression of Gluts, predominantly Glut1 and Glut3, is significantly increased in most malignancies.


Positron Emission Tomography Positron Emission Tomography Image Hepatic Metastasis Gallbladder Carcinoma Ultra Sound 
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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amir H. Khandani
    • 1
  1. 1.Director, Nuclear Medicine Residency and Fellowship Director, PET Services Department of RadiologyUNC School of MedicineChapel Hill

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