June 24, 2016

Superior scan for tumors

Imaging with a compound that binds to neuroendocrine cells is a safer and more effective way to detect rare neuroendocrine tumors.


While relatively rare, tumors of neuroendocrine cells, which release hormones in response to neuronal signals, have been difficult to diagnose and treat.

Now Ronald C. Walker, M.D., and colleagues have reported that PET/CT imaging using the radionuclide Gallium-68 combined with DOTATATE, a compound that binds to these types of tumor cells, is safe and clearly superior to the current standard for imaging these tumors, Indium-111 combined with pentetreotide.

Gallium-68/DOTATATE imaging has been in widespread clinical use outside the United States for nearly a decade. But the study, published last month in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, is the first to report quantitative toxicity data establishing the safety of the technique.

The researchers also reported that due to its increased sensitivity, Gallium-68/DOTATATE imaging can be completed within two hours, compared to two to three days for an Indium-111/pentetreotide scan.

Given its safety, lower radiation exposure and improved accuracy, “Gallium-68-DOTATATE imaging should be used instead … where available,” they concluded.

Support for this study was provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Merit Review, I01BX007080; the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Clinical Trials Network; Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research grant support (TR000445 from NCATS/NIH); and local institutional and philanthropic support.

Send suggestions for articles to highlight in Aliquots and any other feedback about the column to