This study aimed to assess the role of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography (18FDG-PET/CT) in the differential diagnosis of pericardial disease. The diagnosis is often troublesome because pericardial fluid analysis or biopsy does not always provide answers. 18FDG-PET/CT can visualize both inflammation and malignancy and offers a whole-body assessment. Patients who visited the Pericardial Disease Clinic of Samsung Medical Center with an 18FDG-PET/CT order code were extracted. Exclusion criteria were as follows: (1) the purpose of the differential diagnosis was not pericardial disease; (2) the patient had a known advanced-stage malignancy; (3) the patient already have confirmative diagnosis using a serology, pericardial effusion analysis or biopsy. The analysis included 107 patients. The most common final diagnosis was idiopathic (n = 46, 43.0%), followed by tuberculosis (n = 30, 28.0%) and neoplastic (n = 11, 10.3%). A maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) ≥ 5 typically indicates tuberculosis or neoplastic pericarditis except in just one case of autoimmune pericarditis); especially all of the SUVmax scores ≥ 10 had tuberculosis. The diagnostic yield of pericardial biopsy was very low (10.2%). Interestingly, all of the pericardium with an SUVmax < 4.4 had nondiagnostic results. In contrast, targeted biopsies based on 18FDG uptake demonstrated a higher diagnostic yield (38.7%) than pericardium. The sensitivity of 18FDG-PET/CT was 63.6%. The specificity was 71.9%. The positive predictive value was 20.6%. The negative predictive value 94.5%, and the accuracy was 71.0% for excluding malignancy based upon the FDG uptake patterns. It is possible to explore the differential diagnosis in some patients with difficult pericardiocentesis or pericardial biopsy in a noninvasive manner using on the SUVmax or uptake patterns. In addition, the biopsy strategy depending on 18FDG uptake is helpful to achieve biopsy more safely and with a higher yield. 18FDG-PET may enhance the diagnostic efficacy in patients with pericardial disease.
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