Introduction

The number of clinical applications for PET continues to increase, particularly in the field of oncology. In parallel with this is growth in the number of centres that are able to provide a clinical PET or PET/CT service. As with any imaging technique, including radiography, ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and conventional single photon nuclear medicine imaging, there are a large number of normal variants, imaging artefacts and causes of false positive results that need to be recognised in order to avoid misinterpretation. It is particularly important to be aware of potential pitfalls while PET is establishing its place in medical imaging so that the confidence of clinical colleagues and patients is maintained. In addition, the advent of combined PET/CT scanners in clinical imaging practice has brought its own specific pitfalls and artefacts.

The most commonly used PET radiopharmaceutical in clinical practice is 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18FDG). As it has a half-life of nearly 2 hours, it can be transported to sites without a cyclotron, and in view of this and the fact that there is a wealth of clinical data and experience with this compound, it is likely to remain the mainstay of clinical PET for the immediate future.

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