Semin Nucl Med. 2021 Jun 22:S0001-2998(21)00049-0. doi: 10.1053/j.semnuclmed.2021.06.017. Online ahead of print.
While not conventionally used as the first-line modality, [18F]-2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) - positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) can identify infection and inflammation both earlier and with higher sensitivity than anatomic imaging modalities [including chest X-ray (CXR), computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)]. The extent of inflammation and, conversely, recovery within the lungs, can be roughly quantified on FDG-PET/CT using maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) values. The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted the value of FDG-PET/CT in diagnosis, elucidation of acute pulmonary and extrapulmonary manifestations, and long-term follow up. Similarly, many other pulmonary infections such as previously documented coronaviruses, Aspergillosis, Blastomycosis, Candidiasis, Coccidioidomycosis, Cryptococcosis, Histoplasmosis, Mucormycosis, and typical/atypical Mycobacterial infections have all been identified and characterized using FDG-PET/CT imaging. The goal of this review is to summarize the actual and potential benefits of FDG-PET/CT in the imaging of COVID-19 and other lung infections. Further research is necessary to determine the best indications and clinical applications of FDG-PET/CT, improve its specificity, and ultimately ascertain how this modality can best be utilized in the diagnostic work up of infectious pathologies.