Background: The detection of occult bone metastases is a key factor in determining the management of patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC), especially when curative surgery is considered. This prospective study assessed the sensitivity of (18)F-labelled sodium fluoride in conjunction with positron emission tomography/computed tomography ((18)F-NaF PET/CT) for detecting RCC bone metastases, compared with conventional imaging by bone scintigraphy or CT.
Patients and Methods: An adaptive two-stage trial design was utilized, which was stopped after the first stage due to statistical efficacy. Ten patients with stage IV RCC and bone metastases were imaged with (18)F-NaF PET/CT and (99m)Tc-labelled methylene diphosphonate ((99m)Tc-MDP) bone scintigraphy including pelvic single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Images were reported independently by experienced radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians using a 5-point scoring system.
Results: Seventy-seven lesions were diagnosed as malignant: 100% were identified by (18)F-NaF PET/CT, 46% by CT and 29% by bone scintigraphy/SPECT. Standard-of-care imaging with CT and bone scintigraphy identified 65% of the metastases reported by (18)F-NaF PET/CT. On an individual patient basis, (18)F-NaF PET/CT detected more RCC metastases than (99m)Tc-MDP bone scintigraphy/SPECT or CT alone (P = 0.007). The metabolic volumes, mean and maximum standardized uptake values (SUV mean and SUV max) of the malignant lesions were significantly greater than those of the benign lesions (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: (18)F-NaF PET/CT is significantly more sensitive at detecting RCC skeletal metastases than conventional bone scintigraphy or CT. The detection of occult bone metastases could greatly alter patient management, particularly in the context when standard-of-care imaging is negative for skeletal metastases.