FDG PET/CT versus Bone Marrow Biopsy for Diagnosis of Bone Marrow Involvement in Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Systematic Review

Jawaher Almaimani, Charalampos Tsoumpas, Richard Feltbower, Irene Polycarpou*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The management of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) patients requires the identification of bone marrow involvement (BMI) using a bone marrow biopsy (BMB), as recommended by international guidelines. Multiple studies have shown that [F-18]FDG positron emission tomography, combined with computed tomography (PET/CT), may provide important information and may detect BMI, but there is still an ongoing debate as to whether it is sensitive enough for NHL patients in order to replace or be used as a complimentary method to BMB. The objective of this article is to systematically review published studies on the performance of [F-18]FDG PET/CT in detecting BMI compared to the BMB for NHL patients. A population, intervention, comparison, and outcome (PICO) search in PubMed and Scopus databases (until 1 November 2021) was performed. A total of 41 studies, comprising 6147 NHL patients, were found to be eligible and were included in the analysis conducted in this systematic review. The sensitivity and specificity for identifying BMI in NHL patients were 73% and 90% for [F-18]FDG PET/CT and 56% and 100% for BMB. For aggressive NHL, the sensitivity and specificity to assess the BMI for the [F-18]FDG PET/CT was 77% and 94%, while for the BMB it was 58% and 100%. However, sensitivity and specificity to assess the BMI for indolent NHL for the [F-18]FDG PET/CT was 59% and 85%, while for the BMB it was superior, and equal to 94% and 100%. With regard to NHL, a [F-18]FDG PET/CT scan can only replace BMB if it is found to be positive and if patients can be categorized as having advanced staged NHL with high certainty. [F-18]FDG PET/CT might recover tumors missed by BMB, and is recommended for use as a complimentary method, even in indolent histologic subtypes of NHL.

Original languageEnglish
Article number540
Number of pages19
JournalApplied sciences-Basel
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6-Jan-2022


  • positron emission tomography
  • biopsy
  • non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • bone marrow involvement
  • F-18-FDG PET/CT

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