Quantifying the effect of IV contrast media on integrated PET/CT: Clinical evaluation

Osama Mawlawi, Jeremy J. Erasmus, Reginald F. Munden, Tinsu Pan, Amy E. Knight, Homer A. Macapinlac, Donald A. Podoloff, Marvin Chasen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES. The use of IV contrast media in PET/CT can result in an overestimation of PET attenuation factors that potentially can affect interpretation. The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of IV contrast media in PET/CT and assess its impact on patients with intrathoracic malignancies. MATERIALS AND METHODS. Nine patients had CTs performed with and without IV contrast media followed by 18F-FDG PET. PET images were reconstructed using contrast-enhanced and unenhanced CT. To quantify the effect of contrast media on standardized uptake values (SUV), similar regions of interest (ROIs) were drawn on the subclavian vein, heart, liver, spleen, and site of malignancy on both CT and corresponding reconstructed PET images, and the mean and maximum values were compared. In addition, two physicians blinded to the imaging parameters that were used evaluated the reconstructed PET images to assess whether IV contrast media had an effect on clinical interpretation. RESULTS. For all patient studies, the subclavian vein region on the ipsilateral side of contrast media administration had the highest increase in CT numbers with a corresponding average SUVmax increase of 27.1%. Similarly, ROIs of the heart and at the site of malignancy showed an increase in the maximum attenuation value with a corresponding average SUVmax increase of 16.7% and 8.4%, respectively. Other locations had relatively small attenuation value differences with a correspondingly negligible SUV variation. CONCLUSION. Although there is a significant increase in SUV in regions of high-contrast concentration when contrast-enhanced CT is used for attenuation correction, this increase is clinically insignificant. Accordingly, in PET/CT, IV contrast-enhanced CT can be used in combination with the PET to evaluate patients with cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-319
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2006


  • Artifact
  • Attenuation
  • Contrast media
  • PET/CT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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