Practice of 18F-FDG-PET/CT in ICU Patients: A Systematic Review

Bram van Leer*, Nick D. van Rijsewijk, Maarten W.N. Nijsten, Riemer H.J.A. Slart, Janesh Pillay, Andor W.J.M. Glaudemans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


18F-FDG-PET/CT imaging has become a key tool to evaluate infectious and inflammatory diseases. However, application of 18F-FDG-PET/CT in patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) is limited, which is remarkable since the development of critical illness is closely linked to infection and inflammation. This limited use is caused by perceived complexity and risk of planning and executing 18F-FDG-PET/CT in such patients. The aim of this systematic review was to investigate the feasibility of 18F-FDG-PET/CT in ICU patients with special emphasis on patient preparation, transport logistics and safety. Therefore, a systematic search was performed in PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science using the search terms: intensive care, critically ill, positron emission tomography and 18F-FDG or derivates. A total of 1183 articles were found of which 10 were included. Three studies evaluated the pathophysiology of acute respiratory distress syndrome, acute lung injury and acute chest syndrome. Three other studies applied 18F-FDG-PET/CT to increase understanding of pathophysiology after traumatic brain injury. The remaining four studies evaluated infection of unknown origin. These four studies showed a sensitivity and specificity between 85%-100% and 57%-88%, respectively. A remarkable low adverse event rate of 2% was found during the entire 18F-FDG-PET/CT procedure, including desaturation and hypotension. In all studies, a team consisting of an intensive care physician and nurse was present during transport to ensure continuation of necessary critical care. Full monitoring during transport was used in patients requiring mechanical ventilation or vasopressor support. None of the studies used specific patient preparation for ICU patients. However, one article described specific recommendations in their discussion. In conclusion, 18F-FDG-PET/CT has been shown to be feasible and safe in ICU patients, even when ventilated or requiring vasopressors. Specific recommendations regarding patient preparation, logistics and scanning are needed. Including 18F-FDG-PET/CT in routine workup of infection of unknown origin in ICU patients showed potential to identify source of infection and might improve outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-819
Number of pages11
JournalSeminars in Nuclear Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


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