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Role of Positron Emission Tomography in Imaging of Non-neurologic Disorders of the Head, Neck, and Teeth in Veterinary Medicine.

  • Author(s): Spriet, Mathieu
  • Willcox, Jennifer L
  • Culp, William TN
  • et al.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is an imaging technique that provides functional information, in addition to structural information obtained with computed tomography (CT). The most common application is cancer staging, using 18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG), a radioactive analog of glucose. Although limited data are available in the veterinary literature, human studies have demonstrated benefit with the addition of PET both for assessment of the primary tumor and for detection of metastatic disease. 18F-FDG PET appears to be more accurate at detecting the margin of oral neoplasia, in particular for tumors arising from highly vascularized tissue, such as the lingual and laryngeal areas. 18F-FDG PET has a high sensitivity for the detection of lymph node metastasis, however the specificity is variable between studies. Tracers beyond 18F-FDG can also be used for oncology imaging. 18F-Fluoride (18F-NaF) is an excellent osseous tracer, useful in assessing bone involvement of primary tumors or osseous metastasis. Other specific tracers can be used to assess cell proliferation or hypoxia for tumor characterization. 18F-FDG is also an excellent tracer for detection of inflammation. Human studies have demonstrated its value for the assessment of periodontitis and dental implant infection. 18F-NaF has been used to assess disorders of the temporomandibular joint in the human literature, demonstrating good correlation with arthralgia and therapeutic outcome. Both 18F-NaF and 18F-FDG had good concordance with localization of cervical pain in people. PET will likely have a growing role in veterinary medicine not only for oncologic imaging but also for assessment of inflammation and pain.

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