Tuesday, December 9, 2008

False Positive 131I scans in Thyroid Cancer

False positive 131I whole body scans in thyroid cancer.
Br J Radiol. 2000 Jun;73(870):627-35.
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Well differentiated thyroid cancer is a rare disease in the UK. It is the only cancer which, having metastasized, remains curable by radioisotope therapy with 131I. The main indication for administering repeat doses of 131I is the appearance of abnormal uptake in a whole body scan following diagnostic or therapeutic 131I administration. False positive scans, showing the presence of 131I uptake in the absence of residual thyroid tissue or metastases can occur, although they are uncommon. Unless recognized as a false positive, 131I uptake may result in diagnostic error and lead to administration of an unnecessary therapy dose. We describe a series of nine patients in whom the scans showed false positive uptake of 131I, including cases where the cause of the uptake is still uncertain. We demonstrate the common sites of false positive uptake, discuss the underlying mechanisms and suggest a systematic approach to the interpretation of whole body scans in order to prevent unnecessary treatment with 131I.


At the end of the article, there is a useful description of various causes of false positive results and affected organs. These situations come up from time to time.

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