To evaluate the accuracy of 18F-FDG-PET/CT for the detection of recurrent and/or metastatic diseases in differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) patients with thyroglobulin elevation and negative iodine scintigraphy. Whether PET/CT with TSH stimulation (sPET/CT) had better diagnostic performance than PET/CT without TSH stimulation (nsPET/CT) in this scenario was also evaluated.
PubMed and Embase databases were searched for eligible studies from January 2001 to December 2018. Only studies with clearly stated reference standard (histopathology confirmation and/or clinical/imaging follow-up) were included. Publication bias was assessed by Deeks funnel plot. The pooled sensitivity, specificity, diagnostic odds ratio (DOR) and the area under the summary receiver-operating characteristics curve (AUC) for PET/CT was determined by random-effect analysis, respectively. sPET/CT and nsPET/CT were compared pairwise for all diagnostic estimate indexes using Z-test.
We included 17 studies with 1195 patients in this meta-analysis. The pooled sensitivity, specificity, DOR and AUC for PET/CT on patient-based data were 0.86 (95% CI: 0.79–0.91), 0.84 (95% CI: 0.72–0.91), 31.00 (95% CI: 12.00–80.00) and 0.91 (95% CI: 0.88–0.93), respectively. There was high heterogeneity (I 2 = 80% for sensitivity, I 2 = 82% for specificity) and possible publication bias (P = 0.01). Z test did not detect statistically significant difference between sPET/CT and nsPET/CT for all the diagnostic estimate indexes (all P > 0.05).
On patient-based analysis, 18F-FDG-PET/CT has high diagnostic accuracy for the detection of recurrent and/or metastatic diseases in DTC patients with thyroglobulin elevation and negative iodine scintigraphy, but existing studies were limited by high heterogeneity and possible publication bias. The diagnostic performance of sPET/CT may be not superior to nsPET/CT.