COVID-19 incidentally detected on PET/CT during work-up for locally advanced head and neck cancer

Allen Mo, N. Patrik Brodin, Wolfgang A. Tomé, Madhur K. Garg, Rafi Kabarriti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1681-1684
Number of pages4
JournalIn Vivo
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Cancer
  • Incidental detection
  • PET/CT
  • Radiation therapy


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