124I PET/CT to Predict the Outcome of Blind 131I Treatment in Patients with Biochemical Recurrence of Differentiated Thyroid Cancer: Results of a Multicenter Diagnostic Cohort Study (THYROPET)

THYROPET Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


UNLABELLED: Patients with suspected recurrence from differentiated thyroid carcinoma, based on an increased thyroglobulin (Tg) level and negative neck ultrasound (US), pose a clinical dilemma. Because standard imaging has a low yield identifying potential recurrence, blind (131)I treatment is often applied. However, a tumor-negative (131)I whole-body scintigraphy (WBS) prevails in 38%-50% of patients. We performed a prospective multicenter observational cohort study to test the hypothesis that (124)I PET/CT can identify the patients with a tumor-negative posttherapy (131)I WBS.

METHODS: Our study was designed to include 100 patients with detectable Tg and a negative neck US, who were planned for blind (131)I therapy. All patients underwent (124)I PET/CT after administration of recombinant human thyroid-stimulating hormone. Subsequently, after 4-6 wk of thyroid hormone withdrawal patients were treated with 5.5-7.4 GBq of (131)I, followed by WBS a week later. The primary endpoint was the number of (131)I therapies that could have been omitted using the predicted outcome of the (124)I PET/CT, operationalized as the concordance of tumor detection by (124)I PET/CT, using post-(131)I therapy WBS as the reference test. The study would be terminated if 3 patients had a negative (124)I PET/CT and a positive posttherapy (131)I scan.

RESULTS: After inclusion of 17 patients, we terminated the study preliminarily because the stopping rule had been met. Median Tg level at (131)I therapy was 28 μg/L (interquartile range, 129). Eight posttherapy WBS were negative (47%), all of which were correctly predicted by negative (124)I PET/CT. Nine posttherapy WBS showed iodine-avid tumor, of which 4 also had positive (124)I PET/CT findings. Sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value, and positive predictive value of (124)I PET/CT were 44% (confidence interval [CI], 14%-79%), 100% (CI, 63%-100%), 62% (CI, 32%-86%), and 100% (CI, 40%-100%), respectively. Implementation of (124)I PET in this setting would have led to 47% (8/17) less futile (131)I treatments, but 29% of patients (5/17) would have been denied potentially effective therapy.

CONCLUSION: In patients with biochemical evidence of recurrent differentiated thyroid carcinoma and a tumor-negative neck US, the high false-negative rate of (124)I PET/CT after recombinant human thyroid-stimulating hormone (124)I PET/CT as implemented in this study precludes its use as a scouting procedure to prevent futile blind (131)I therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-707
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of nuclear medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes/therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography
  • Prognosis
  • Recurrence
  • Thyroglobulin/metabolism
  • Thyroid Neoplasms/diagnostic imaging
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult

Cite this