Radiation Pneumonitis: Correlation of Toxicity With Pulmonary Metabolic Radiation Response

Justin P. Hart, Matthew R. McCurdy, Muthuveni Ezhil, Wei Wei, Meena Khan, Dershan Luo, Reginald F. Munden, Valen E. Johnson, Thomas M. Guerrero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Purpose: To characterize the relationship between radiation pneumonitis (RP) clinical symptoms and pulmonary metabolic activity on post-treatment [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET). Patients and Methods: We retrospectively studied 101 esophageal cancer patients who underwent restaging FDG-PET/computed tomography imaging 3-12 weeks after completing thoracic radiotherapy. The National Institutes of Health Common Toxicity Criteria, version 3, was used to score the RP clinical symptoms. Linear regression was applied to the FDG-PET/computed tomography images to determine the normalized FDG uptake vs. radiation dose. The pulmonary metabolic radiation response (PMRR) was quantified as this slope. Modeling was performed to determine the interaction of PMRR, mean lung dose (MLD), and the percentage of lung receiving >20 Gy with RP outcomes. Results: Of the 101 patients, 25 had Grade 0, 10 had Grade 1, 60 had Grade 2, 5 had Grade 3, and 1 had Grade 5 RP symptoms. Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that increased values of both MLD and PMRR were associated with a greater probability of RP clinical symptoms (p = 0.032 and p = 0.033, respectively). Spearman's rank correlation found no association between the PMRR and the dosimetric parameters (planning target volume, MLD, percentage of lung receiving >5-30 Gy). Twofold cross-validation demonstrated that the combination of MLD and PMRR was superior to either alone for assessing the development of clinical RP symptoms. The combined MLD (or percentage of lung receiving >20 Gy) and PMRR had a greater sensitivity and accuracy (53.3% and 62.5%, respectively) than either alone. Conclusion: The results of this study have demonstrated a significant correlation between RP clinical symptoms and the PMRR measured by FDG-PET/computed tomography after thoracic radiotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-971
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 15 2008


  • Computed tomography
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Pulmonary injury
  • Radiation pneumonitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation


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