Article Text

Images in...
Congenital hyperinsulinism: [18F]DOPA PET/CT scan of a focal lesion in the head of the pancreas
  1. R R Kapoor1,
  2. C Gilbert1,
  3. K Mohnike2,
  4. O Blankenstein3,
  5. F Fuechtner3,
  6. K Hussain1
  1. 1
    London Centre for Paediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, Great Ormond Street, Hospital for Children NHS Trust, London, and The Institute of Child Health, London, UK
  2. 2
    Department of Paediatrics and Neonatology, O.-v.-Guericke-University Magdeburg, Germany
  3. 3
    Institute of Experimental Paediatric Endocrinology, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
  1. K.Hussain{at}

Statistics from

Congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI) is a cause of severe hypoglycaemia in the neonatal period.1 The histological differentiation of CHI into focal and diffuse disease has radically changed the surgical management of patients with the disease.2 Correct localisation and limited excision of the focal lesion results in complete cure of the patient. Recent advances in fluorine-18 l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine ([18F]DOPA) positron emission tomography (PET) scanning are beginning to provide greater accuracy in preoperative differentiation of focal and diffuse disease and correct localisation of focal lesions.35 The principle of this test is that, pancreatic islets take up l-3, 4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-DOPA), and convert it to dopamine by DOPA decarboxylase, present in the islet cells. However, the role of dopamine in pancreatic β-cells remains unclear.

A 3-day-old neonate presented with severe hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia. He failed to respond to all forms of treatment and required further investigations to differentiate diffuse from focal disease. He underwent an integrated [18F]DOPA PET/CT scan. Figure 1 shows more than twofold uptake of [18F]DOPA in the head of the pancreas compared with the body and tail of the pancreas, proving focal disease.4 A computed tomography (CT) scan combined with the PET scan colocalised the focal lesion in the head of the pancreas at the junction of the portal vein and superior vena cava (size 6.1 mm). At the time of surgery the focal lesion was found exactly where the PET/CT localisation suggested and was excised with complete resolution of the hyperinsulinism. [18F]DOPA PET/CT scanning is now the preferred method for differentiating diffuse and focal CHI.

Figure 1 For comparison of tracer uptake in various parts of the pancreas standardised uptake values (SUVs) were calculated: [18F]DOPA uptake is greatest in the head (5.4) of the pancreas compared with the body and tail (2.5 and 2.6, respectively), demonstrating the location. The size of the focal lesion was estimated to be 6.1 mm in diameter.


This article has been adapted from Kapoor R R, Gilbert C, Mohnike K, Blankenstein O, Fuechtner F, Hussain K. Congenital hyperinsulinism: [ Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edition 2008;93:166


View Abstract


  • Competing interests: None.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.