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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 68-70

Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease with 18f-fludeoxyglucose uptake in cervical lymph nodes on dual-time-point imaging positron emission tomography/computed tomography mimicking malignant disease

1 Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, School of Medicine, Tokai University, Tokyo; Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Oiso Hospital, Japan
2 Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, School of Medicine, Tokai University, Tokyo, Japan

Date of Web Publication12-Jan-2017

Correspondence Address:
Ken-ichi Aoyama
143 Shimokasuya, Isehara, Kanagawa - 259-1193
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DOI: 10.4103/1450-1147.174712

PMID: 28217024

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Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease (KFD) is a benign but self-limiting disorder. However, KFD is often misdiagnosed as a malignant disease. Although 18F-fludeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake on dual-time-point imaging (DTPI) positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) is useful in distinguishing malignant from benign disease, the latter sometimes mimics malignancy on DTPI PET/CT, resulting in a misdiagnosis. Here, we describe the case of a 30-year-old woman who complained of cervical lymphadenopathy. PET showed increased FDG uptake in multiple lymph nodes, with a maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) of 19.0 in the early phase to 21.8 in the late phase. A biopsy was performed, and pathological examination revealed KFD. KFD with FDG uptake in lymph nodes on DTPI PET/CT is rare and difficult to be distinguished from a malignant disease.

Keywords: Cervical lymphadenopathy, dual-time-point imaging, fludeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography, Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease

How to cite this article:
Aoyama Ki, Otsuru M, Uchibori M, Ota Y. Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease with 18f-fludeoxyglucose uptake in cervical lymph nodes on dual-time-point imaging positron emission tomography/computed tomography mimicking malignant disease . World J Nucl Med 2017;16:68-70

How to cite this URL:
Aoyama Ki, Otsuru M, Uchibori M, Ota Y. Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease with 18f-fludeoxyglucose uptake in cervical lymph nodes on dual-time-point imaging positron emission tomography/computed tomography mimicking malignant disease . World J Nucl Med [serial online] 2017 [cited 2021 Jan 19];16:68-70. Available from: http://www.wjnm.org/text.asp?2017/16/1/68/174712

   Introduction Top

Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease (KFD), known as histiocytic necrotizing lymphadenitis, is a benign but self-limiting disorder. KFD often shows with symptoms similar to those of malignant disease and is hence difficult to distinguish from malignancy. [1] Thus, imaging studies are often used to confirm the diagnosis. Recently, several studies have shown that dual-time-point imaging (DTPI) 18F-fludeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) may be useful in differentiating malignancy from benign disease in lymph nodes. [2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7] However, this differentiation is not always possible. Here, we describe a case of KFD in which FDG uptake in cervical lymph nodes on DTPI PET/CT mimicked malignant lesions.

   Case Report Top

Patient history and background

A 30-year-old woman was referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon because of right submandibular lymphadenopathy and fatigue. She reported a fever with body temperature of up to 38.0°C daily for nearly 2 weeks, without upper respiratory symptoms. The fever had developed after the extraction of the right wisdom tooth, and she denied any foreign travel prior to the symptoms.

Physical examination

Slight facial swelling and anterior cervical lymphadenopathy with tenderness was observed, and wound healing was noted in the extraction socket.

Laboratory tests

The patient had a slightly elevated white blood cell count (8,800 cells/mm 2 ; neutrophils, 88%; lymphocytes, 3%; atypical lymphocytes, 1%) and C-reactive protein level (1.32 mg/dL), with normal lactate dehydrogenase and alkaline phosphatase levels. Serum levels of immunoglobulin (Ig) G, IgA, IgM, IgE, complement components (C) 3, C4, carcinoembryonic antigen, and alpha-fetoprotein were within normal ranges. The patient tested negative on the tuberculin-purified protein derivative test and on tests for cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, Herpes simplex virus, and toxoplasma. Tests for extractable nuclear antigen and antinuclear antibody were negative as well.

Mild bacterial infection of the extraction socket was suspected and antibiotic therapy was initiated. However, the patient showed no improvement after 15 days. Accordingly, contrast-enhanced neck CT was performed, that showed cervical lymph node enlargement, with maximum dimensions of 19.0 mm × 19.0 mm [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Enhanced neck computed tomography image showing cervical lymph node enlargement (arrows). The maximum dimensions were 19.0 mm × 19.0 mm

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Under the suspicion of malignancy, whole-body FDG PET/CT was performed. The early and late phase images were obtained 60 min and 120 min after the injection of FDG, respectively. The PET scan showed multiple lymph nodes with increased FDG uptake in the right cervical area, excluding the extraction socket. The maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) of the lesion was confirmed with dual-phase scanning to be 19.0 in the early phase to 21.8 in the late phase [Figure 2]. These findings suggested malignant disease such as lymphoma. A biopsy was performed, but histological examination revealed KFD, with no evidence of lymphoma.
Figure 2: Delayed phase 18F-fludeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography imaging. Multiple swollen lymph nodes were detected in the right cervical region. The maximum standardized uptake value was 21.8 in the late phase

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Because KFD is a benign condition, the patient was placed under observation and no therapy was administered. Cervical lymphadenopathy disappeared after 3 months.

No recurrence has been noted for 2.5 years since diagnosis.

   Discussion Top

KFD, also known as histiocytic necrotizing lymphadenitis, was first described in Japan in 1972. It is a benign but self-limiting disorder. [1] The most common manifestation of KFD is cervical lymphadenopathy with fever and night sweats, and laboratory data are not specific. [8] The etiology of KFD remains unknown, but KFD is thought to be triggered by an autoimmune or viral process. Usually, KFD is limited to the cervical area, but it may, in addition, involve lymph nodes in the whole body. Surgical excision is necessary to make a definitive diagnosis. [1]

In the present case, physical examination findings were nonspecific. In addition, although no abnormal findings were noted in the extraction socket, routine laboratory data indicated mild inflammation and no viral infection. Further, there was no evidence of scleral icterus or hepatosplenomegaly. Accordingly, malignant disease was suspected, and FDG PET/CT was consequently performed.

FDG PET/CT is a widely used imaging modality in oncology. In particular, DTPI FDG PET/CT has been shown in multiple studies to be useful in differentiating malignancy from benign conditions. [2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8] However, differentiation with DTPI FDG PET/CT is not always possible, resulting in a misdiagnosis due to a benign condition mimicking a malignant disease. Generally, DTPI is performed at 1 h and 2 h after FDG injection, respectively. The criterion for the diagnosis of malignancy on delayed imaging is an SUVmax of more than 2.5, an increased SUV ‡™SUV on DTPI compared to the initial images, or both. [8] In addition, some studies have used a retention index (RI) of >0% or 10% as the preferred indicator of malignancy, with RI calculated as follows: RI (%) = 100% × [SUV (delayed) - SUV (initial)]/SUV (initial). [9],[10],[11] However, active granulomatous lesions and inflammation or acute infection sometimes show high FDG (delayed) uptake on DTPI, similar to the case for malignant lesions. [10] One previously reported case of KFD was associated with high FDG (delayed) activity (SUVmax of 13.5 to 21.1 in the cervical region). [12] Another study reported that surgical biopsy is necessary for the differentiation of malignant disease from KFD, regardless of DTPI findings. [13] In agreement with this case, DTPI was not useful in distinguishing KFD from malignant disease in our case as well; lymphoma was suspected to be based on the DTPI findings. We found that FDG PET/CT showed an SUVmax of 19.0 to 21.8 and increased SUV (delayed) activity [‡™SUV = 2.8 (>2.5) and RI = 14.7% (>10%)]. Thus, lymphoma was suspected, and a biopsy was performed. Based on our experience with this case, further investigations are required to diagnose KFD in cases of lymph node uptake on DTPI.


We are grateful to Editage Insight English editing and proofreading services, Cactus Communications company for critical reading.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Bosch X, Guilabert A. Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease. Orphanet J Rare Dis 2006;1:18.  Back to cited text no. 1
Hustinx R, Smith RJ, Benard F, Rosenthal DI, Machtay M, Farber LA, et al. Dual time point fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography: A potential method to differentiate malignancy from inflammation and normal tissue in the head and neck. Eur J Nucl Med 1999;26:1345-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
Macdonald K, Searle J, Lyburn I. The role of dual time point FDG PET imaging in the evaluation of solitary pulmonary nodules with an initial standard uptake value less than 2.5. Clin Radiol 2011;66:244-50.  Back to cited text no. 3
Mavi A, Urhan M, Yu JQ, Zhuang H, Houseni M, Cermik TF, et al. Dual time point 18F-FDG PET imaging detects breast cancer with high sensitivity and correlates well with histologic subtypes. J Nucl Med 2006;47:1440-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Schillaci O, Travascio L, Bolacchi F, Calabria F, Bruni C, Cicciò C, et al. Accuracy of early and delayed FDG PET-CT and of contrast-enhanced CT in the evaluation of lung nodules: A preliminary study on 30 patients. Radiol Med 2009;114:890-906.  Back to cited text no. 5
Shinya T, Fujii S, Asakura S, Taniguchi T, Yoshio K, Alafate A, et al. Dual-time-point F-18 FDG PET/CT for evaluation in patients with malignant lymphoma. Ann Nucl Med 2012;26:616-21.  Back to cited text no. 6
Zhuang H, Pourdehnad M, Lambright ES, Yamamoto AJ, Lanuti M, Li P, et al. Dual time point 18F-FDG PET imaging for differentiating malignant from inflammatory processes. J Nucl Med 2001;42:1412-7.  Back to cited text no. 7
Cheng G, Torigian DA, Zhuang H, Alavi A. When should we recommend use of dual time-point and delayed time-point imaging techniques in FDG PET? Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 2013;40:779-87.  Back to cited text no. 8
Nishiyama Y, Yamamoto Y, Kimura N, Ishikawa S, Sasakawa Y, Ohkawa M. Dual-time-point FDG-PET for evaluation of lymph node metastasis in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. Ann Nucl Med 2008;22:245-50.  Back to cited text no. 9
Lan XL, Zhang YX, Wu ZJ, Jia Q, Wei H, Gao ZR. The value of dual time point (18) F-FDG PET imaging for the differentiation between malignant and benign lesions. Clin Radiol 2008;63:756-64.  Back to cited text no. 10
Matthies A, Hickeson M, Cuchiara A, Alavi A. Dual time point 18F-FDG PET for the evaluation of pulmonary nodules. J Nucl Med 2002;43:871-5.  Back to cited text no. 11
Zhang MJ, Xiao L, Zhu YH, Jiang JJ, Jiang MS, He W. Lymph node uptake of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose detected with positron emission tomography/computed tomography mimicking malignant lymphoma in a patient with Kikuchi disease. Clin Lymphoma Myeloma Leuk 2010;10:477-9.  Back to cited text no. 12
Yoshida Y, Matsuzawa Y, Rikitake H, Wakabayashi T, Okada N, Kuroda T, et al. Mediastinal lymphadenopathy without cervical lymphadenopathy in a case of Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease. Intern Med 2011;50:649-52.  Back to cited text no. 13


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


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