[(18)F]FDG uptake in axillary lymph nodes and deltoid muscle after COVID-19 mRNA vaccination: a cohort study to determine incidence and contributing factors using a multivariate analysis

Ann Nucl Med. 2022 Jan 31. doi: 10.1007/s12149-021-01711-7. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: Reactive FDG uptake in the axillary lymph nodes (ALN) and deltoid muscle (DM) after COVID-19 mRNA vaccination has been recognized, although the actual situation in the Japanese population remains unknown. To determine the incidence of reactive FDG uptake and its contributing factors, we retrospectively studied a cohort of subjects who were vaccinated at our hospital.

METHODS: Whole-body FDG-PET/CT examinations performed in 237 subjects out of 240 subjects with a definite history of COVID-19 vaccination (BNT162b2; BioNTech-Pfizer) were analyzed. Positivity and SUVmax of FDG uptake in the ALN and DM ipsilateral to vaccination, various subject characteristics, and the grade of the pathological FDG-PET/CT findings were evaluated using a multivariate analysis.

RESULTS: FDG uptake in the ALN and DM ipsilateral to vaccination was seen in about 60% of the subjects even soon (0-4 days) after the first vaccination, with percentages reaching 87.5% and 75.0%, respectively, after the second vaccination. DM uptake had almost disappeared at around 2 weeks, while ALN uptake persisted for 3 weeks or longer. A multivariate analysis showed that a short duration since vaccination, a younger age, a female sex, and a low FDG-PET/CT grade (minimal pathological FDG uptake) contributed significantly to positive ALN uptake, while a short duration since vaccination and a female sex were the only significant contributors to positive DM uptake. This study is the first to identify factors contributing to positive FDG uptake in ALN and DM after COVID-19 vaccination.

CONCLUSION: A high incidence of FDG uptake in ALN and DM was observed after vaccination. ALN uptake seemed to be associated with a younger age, a female sex, and minimal pathological FDG uptake. After vaccination, an acute inflammatory reaction in DM followed by immune reaction in ALN linked to humoral immunity may be speculated.

PMID:35098436 | DOI:10.1007/s12149-021-01711-7