The Task Force members have recently observed an unusual imaging pattern on FDG PET/CT or FDG PET/MR that may be due to COVID-19 infection. 

Image courtesy of SNMMI


January 17, 2022 — The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) issued a statement on Jan. 14 regarding the possible effect of Omicron infection on FDG PET/CT scans. As a professional society representing more than 16,000 nuclear medicine professionals, it is SNMMI’s responsibility to distribute information relevant to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic to its members as we navigate through various ups and downs of each successive wave. Over the past 18 months, the SNMMI COVID-19 Task Force has met bi-weekly to monitor, support, educate, and provide guidance to the nuclear medicine and molecular imaging community. 

The Task Force members have recently observed an unusual imaging pattern on FDG PET/CT or FDG PET/MR that may be due to COVID-19 infection. 

Unlike the FDG PET/CT pattern seen with infections from previous strains of COVID-19, with principal involvement of the lungs, this new array of findings is primarily centered in the upper aerodigestive tract and cervical lymph nodes. Specifically, there is prominent, symmetric FDG uptake throughout the nasopharynx, oropharynx and tonsils with or without associated FDG-avid cervical lymphadenopathy, particularly in the suprahyoid neck. Based on what we know about the Omicron variant, it is conceivable that this pattern, whenever correlated with COVID-19 infection, is a result of the presently dominant Omicron strain. 

The Task Force recommends that this pattern should be taken into consideration at the time of FDG PET/CT interpretations and the possibility of infection with Omicron variant of COVID-19 should be entertained in the differential diagnosis. Since this pattern can by no means be diagnostic of COVID-19 infection, the Task Force makes the following recommendations.

  1. Check the patient records to see if there is a recent positive COVID-19 test.
  2. Determine if the patient is at higher risk of COVID-19 infection based on current symptoms or due to recent exposure or travel. If so, a recommendation can be made to test for COVID-19 in the appropriate setting.
  3. Compare with prior FDG PET/CT examinations and the patient’s history to determine if this represents chronic inflammatory/reactive process or stable malignancy such as lymphoma.
  4. Various differential diagnostic possibilities should be considered if this pattern is new or if there is interval progression including, but not limited to, infection with COVID-19, other viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus, malignancy and bacterial infections.
  5. This pattern may also be seen in children and younger adults but should be interpreted cautiously in view of normal increased activity that can be physiologic. Correlation with history and symptoms and comparison to prior examinations is recommended.

For more information: www.snmmi.org

Related Radiology COVID-19 Content:

Medical AI Models Rely on 'Shortcuts' That Could Lead to Misdiagnosis of COVID-19

CT Provides Best Diagnosis for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

SNMMI Image of the Year: PET Imaging Measures Cognitive Impairment in COVID-19 Patients

Cardiac MRI Effective in Detecting Asymptomatic, Symptomatic Myocarditis in Athletes

PHOTO GALLERY: How COVID-19 Appears on Medical Imaging

VIDEO: How to Image COVID-19 and Radiological Presentations of the Virus — Interview with Margarita Revzin, M.D.

How Does COVID-19 Appear in the Lungs?

Find more radiology related COVID news and video

PHOTO GALLERY: How COVID-19 Appears on Medical Imaging


Related Content

News | PET-CT

September 28, 2022 — Xoran Technologies is engaged in a ground-breaking research project to develop a PET/CT scanner for ...

Time September 28, 2022
arrow
News | Radiology Imaging

September 27, 2022 — UK Biobank, the large-scale biomedical database and research resource, together with the Medical ...

Time September 27, 2022
arrow
News | PET-CT

September 13, 2022 — For over 40 years the vision of Shared Medical Services (SMS) has been to provide innovative ...

Time September 13, 2022
arrow
News | Prostate Cancer

September 8, 2022 — In prostate cancer patients experiencing recurrence following a radical prostatectomy, imaging with ...

Time September 08, 2022
arrow
News | Radiology Business

September 8, 2022 — Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian has been named a Radiopharmaceutical Therapy Center of ...

Time September 08, 2022
arrow
News | SPECT-CT

September 7, 2022 — The American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) and three partner societies have come together to ...

Time September 07, 2022
arrow
Feature | Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Anthony S. Fauci, MD, who was instrumental in leading the country through the COVID-19 pandemic, announced today through ...

Time August 22, 2022
arrow
News | Teleradiology

August 17, 2022 — In a study published today in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers at the Icahn ...

Time August 17, 2022
arrow
Feature | Radiology Business | By Melinda Taschetta-Millane

Here is what you and your colleagues found to be most interesting in the field of medical imaging during the month of ...

Time August 01, 2022
arrow
Feature | AHRA | By Melinda Taschetta-Millane

The Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) celebrated its 50th anniversary July 10-13, 2022, in Phoenix. To ...

Time July 25, 2022
arrow
Subscribe Now