COVID-19 Incidentally Detected on PET/CT During Work-up for Locally Advanced Head and Neck Cancer

Head and Neck Cancer

Mo A, et al. In Vivo 2020.


AIM: To describe the incidental detection of COVID-19 disease on positron-emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) in a patient with cancer despite initial negative swab by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

CASE REPORT: Clinical and radiographic data were obtained from the electronic medical record. Nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained and evaluated for COVID-19 by the Food and Drug Administration-approved reverse transcription-PCR assays. On radiographic examination, PET/CT was consistent with COVID-19-related pneumonia not seen on prior imaging. Initial nasopharyngeal swab 2 days after PET/CT imaging was negative for COVID-19. Subsequent repeat swab 10 days later was positive for COVID-19, while the patient was febrile on screening assessment. The patient remained COVID-19-positive until 1 month after abnormal PET/CT imaging.

CONCLUSION: PET/CT can be sensitive for early COVID-19 detection, even in the setting of a negative confirmatory PCR test. This highlights the importance of continued patient surveillance and use of appropriate personal protective equipment to minimize COVID-19 transmission.