BACKGROUND: 2-Deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) is an advanced imaging technique that can be used to examine the whole body for an infection focus in a single examination in patients with bloodstream infection (BSI) of unknown origin. However, literature on the use of this technique in intensive care patients is scarce. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic yield of FDG-PET/CT in intensive care patients with BSI.

METHODS: In this retrospective cohort study, all intensive care patients from our Dutch university medical center who had culture-proven BSI between 2010 and 2020 and underwent FDG-PET/CT to find the focus of infection were included. Diagnostic performance was calculated and logistic regression analysis was performed to evaluate the association between FDG-PET/CT outcome and C-reactive protein level (CRP), leukocyte count, duration of antibiotic treatment, duration of ICU stay, quality of FDG-PET/CT, and dependency on mechanical ventilation. In addition, the impact of FDG-PET/CT on clinical treatment was evaluated.

RESULTS: 30 intensive care patients with BSI were included. In 21 patients, an infection focus was found on FDG-PET/CT which led to changes in clinical management in 14 patients. FDG-PET/CT achieved a sensitivity of 90.9% and specificity of 87.5% for identifying the focus of infection. Poor quality of the FDG-PET images significantly decreased the likelihood of finding an infection focus as compared to reasonable or good image quality (OR 0.16, P = 0.034). No other variables were significantly associated with FDG-PET/CT outcome. No adverse events during the FDG-PET/CT procedure were reported.

CONCLUSION: FDG-PET/CT has a high diagnostic yield for detecting the infection focus in patients with BSI admitted to intensive care. Poor PET image quality was significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of finding the infection focus in patients with BSI. This could be improved by adequate dietary preparation and cessation of intravenous glucose and glucose-regulating drugs. Recent advances in PET/CT technology enable higher image quality with shorter imaging time and may contribute to routinely performing FDG-PET/CT in intensive care patients with BSI of unknown origin.

Original languageEnglish
Article number133
Number of pages12
JournalCritical care (London, England)
Issue number1
Early online date7-Apr-2021
Publication statusPublished - 7-Apr-2021


  • Bacteremia
  • Bloodstream infection
  • Candidemia
  • Fungemia
  • PET/CT
  • Sepsis

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