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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 30-32  

Incidental colorectal polyps in positron emission tomography

Department of Gastroenterology and Liver disease, Columbia Asia Referral Hospitals and St. Philomena's Hospital, Bangalore, India

Date of Web Publication15-Mar-2013

Correspondence Address:
Amit Yelsangikar
Department of Gastroenterology and Liver disease, Columbia Asia Referral Hospitals, Rajkumar Road, Bangalore
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-3919.108841

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Fluorodeoxy glucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FDG PET/CT) is increasingly being used for diagnosing various malignancies and surveillance of cancer recurrence, staging and screening in high-risk individuals. Due to its high sensitivity in picking up small dysplastic lesions, incidental lesions are detected frequently. We present two patients who underwent PET CT as part of cancer screening and were incidentally detected with adenomatous colonic polyps. Colonoscopy and biopsy confirmed the diagnosis.

Keywords: Colonic adenoma, colonoscopy, fluorodeoxy glucose positron emission tomography computed tomography, polyp

How to cite this article:
Yelsangikar A, Pendsey S, Pradeep K R, Bhat N. Incidental colorectal polyps in positron emission tomography. Indian J Nucl Med 2012;27:30-2

How to cite this URL:
Yelsangikar A, Pendsey S, Pradeep K R, Bhat N. Incidental colorectal polyps in positron emission tomography. Indian J Nucl Med [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Jan 22];27:30-2. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Positron emission tomography (PET) with fluorodeoxy glucose (FDG) is commonly used imaging modality in the workup of various malignancies. Incidental colonic FDG uptake is often observed in patients who undergo PET/CT studies. Diffuse FDG uptake is associated with normal findings at colonoscopy; segmental high uptake suggests inflammation, while focal and nodular uptake is associated with neoplasia. The usefulness of FDG PET/CT for incidental premalignant colonic lesion detection has been previously reported. [1]

   Case Reports Top

Case 1

A 55-year-old lady from Norway was referred to our department for evaluation of Caecal lesion detected by PET/CT [Figure 1]a and b. She had previously undergone surgery 4 years before presentation for carcinoma cheek. A PET/CT 2 years after the first surgery showed local recurrence and a radical hemimandibulectomy was done. She had no family history of colon, breast or uterine cancer. Colonoscopy showed a 1.5 cm flat polyp in the caecum [Figure 2]a which on narrow band imaging and chromoendoscopy with indigo carmine had pit pattern suggestive of adenomatous polyp [Figure 2]b. Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) of the lesion was done. Histopathology showed tubular adenoma.
Figure 1:

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Figure 2:

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Case 2

A 69-year-old lady with L1 vertebral compression fracture underwent screening for malignancy. On evaluation, she had a suspicious left iliac fossa lesion on PET/CT [Figure 3]a and [Figure 3]b. Ultrasound showed normal ovaries. Colonoscopy was done, which showed a 2 cm polypoidal lesion in sigmoid colon with short stalk [Figure 4]. Polypectomy was done and biopsy showed tubular adenoma.
Figure 3:

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Figure 4: Case 2: Colonoscopy showing adenomatous polyp in sigmoid colon

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   Discussion Top

A broad range of screening modalities for the detection of colorectal adenomata are available, such as fecal occult blood testing, colonoscopy, barium enema, and virtual colonoscopy of which colonoscopy and biopsy is regarded as the gold standard for the detection of premalignant lesions such as adenomatous polyps. Detection and removal of adenomata results in a decrease in the incidence and mortality from colorectal cancer. [2] FDG PET/CT is used in clinical practice to detect a variety of tumors, including lymphoma, melanoma, lung, and colon cancer. [3]

Increased glucose metabolism has been reported in colorectal cancer and anaerobic glycolysis in vitro in surgically resected colon cancers was demonstrated as early as in 1962. [4] FDG PET studies based on in vivo measurement of glucose metabolism, showed high FDG uptake in both primary and recurrent colorectal cancers. Primary colorectal cancers, as small as 1.4 cm have been detected with PET. [5] In a study done to validate FDG PET findings with colonoscopy in Netherlands, compared with colonoscopy, FDG PET had a sensitivity of 74% and specificity of 84%. The positive predictive value of FDG PET was 78%. FDG PET failed to detect small (diameter 3-10 mm) polyps in four patients. In nine cases abnormal FDG accumulation on PET imaging was the sole reason for performance of an endoscopic procedure. In these cases, endoscopy detected large adenomatous polyps in four patients and carcinomas in two patients, but no abnormalities were detected on endoscopy in the other three patients. There was a good correlation between the location of FDG uptake and endoscopy-positive lesions. FDG PET can detect clinically relevant lesions of the colon. The degree of uptake was proportional to the degree of dysplasia in the adenoma. [6]

There are pitfalls in using PET/CT for routine screening for colonic adenomata and cancer surveillance in high-risk individuals. The large intestine is an established site of physiologic FDG uptake, and intestinal FDG uptake poses a practical problem in the evaluation of PET images. Intestinal uptake can hinder detection of FDG uptake in the adenoma. It can also be the source of a false-positive result. [7] Data regarding the usefulness of PET/CT comes from centers with high incidence of colonic polyps and positive predictive value may be much lower in India where incidence of polyps is low. The advantage of non-invasive nature of this procedure is off-set by its prohibitive cost at present.

Our cases illustrate the fact that with the increasing use of PET/CT for screening and cancer surveillance, we can expect detection of incidental colonic polyps, which are more likely to be adenomatous. A colonoscopy is warranted in these individuals for confirmation and removal of polyps.

   Conclusion Top

Increased glucose metabolism is observed in colonic adenomata, which may be detected on FDG PET/CT. The widespread use of FDG PET/CT will increase the number of adenomatous polyps detected. Hence, it is important to recognize that such polyps can be found incidentally with PET/CT and need to be investigated further by colonoscopy.

   References Top

1.Chen YK, Kao CH, Liao AC, Shen YY, Su CT. Colorectal cancer screening in asymptomatic adults: The role of FDG PET scan. Anticancer Res 2003;23:4357-61.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Winawer SJ, Zauber AG, Ho MN, O'Brien MJ, Gottlieb LS, Sternberg SS, et al. Prevention of colorectal cancer by colonoscopic polypectomy. The National Polyp Study Workgroup. N Engl J Med 1993;329:1977-81.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Bomanji JB, Costa DC, Ell PJ. Clinical role of positron emission tomography in oncology. Lancet Oncol 2001;2:157-64.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Macbeth RA, Bekesi JG. Oxygen consumption and anaerobic glycolysis of human malignant and normal tissue. Cancer Res 1962;22:244-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Yasuda S, Ide M, Takagi S, Shohtsu A. F-18 FDG uptake in colonic adenoma. Clin Nucl Med 1998;23:99-100.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.van Kouwen MC, Nagengast FM, Jansen JB, Oyen WJ, Drenth JP. 2-(18F)-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography detects clinical relevant adenomas of the colon: A prospective study. J Clin Oncol 2005;23:3713-7.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Yasuda S, Takahashi W, Takagi S, Fujii H, Ide M, Shohtsu A. Factors influencing physiological FDG uptake in the intestine. Tokai J Exp Clin Med 1998;23:241-4.  Back to cited text no. 7


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]

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