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Imaging Studies in Hypercalcemia

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Hypercalcemia is a relatively common clinical problem, mainly (>90%) related to primary hyperparathyroidism (HPT) and malignancies. The anatomical and functional imaging techniques available for locating enlarged parathyroid glands include ultrasound (US), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and nuclear medicine imaging techniques. The most commonly employed are US and parathyroid scintigraphy, while CT, MRI, positron emission tomography (PET)/CT, and selective venous sampling are generally used in patients with persistent or recurrent HPT, or when findings of non-invasive studies are negative or conflicting. The reported accuracy is 57-93%, 54-93%, and up to 95% for US, 99mTc-sestamibi scintigraphy, and the two modalities combined, respectively. A multimodality approach (x-ray, whole-body scintigraphy, CT, MRI, and PET) is usually recommended for whole body assessment in cases of cancer-induced hypercalcemia (CIH). Imaging studies should evaluate each organ (i.e. breast, kidney, prostate, parathyroid) potentially involved in the pathogenesis of hypercalcemia in patients with CIH. In cases of skeletal metastases, when findings on plain x-ray or bone scans are uncertain, any unexplained region of abnormal uptake should be examined by MRI and/or 18F-fluoro-2- deoxyglucose (FDG)-PET/CT, which has proved more accurate than classical bone scintigraphy, especially for dealing with hematologic malignancies. A number of radionuclide tracers, other than 18F-FDG, are available for use in selected cases to locate specific tumors (i.e. 68Ga for neuroendocrine tumors). This is a review of recently published information on the imaging techniques currently available for patients with hypercalcemia.

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Keywords: CT; Hypercalcemia; MRI; PET; US; cancer-induced hypercalcemia; hyperparathyroidism; imaging studies; metastases; sestamibi scintigraphy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-08-01

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