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Study: Vaccinated Show Higher 18F-FDG Uptake on PET/CT Scans

Credit to Dr Peter McCullough for mentioning this Japanese study titled “Assessment of Myocardial 18F-FDG Uptake at PET/CT in Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2–vaccinated and Nonvaccinated Patients” by T. Nakahara et al published on 19 September 2023.

The study assessed myocardial fluorine 18 (18F) fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake on PET/CT images in asymptomatic vaccinated patients and compared them with non-vaccinated patients.

The sample included 303 non-vaccinated and 700 vaccinated individuals. Those with certain pre-existing conditions were excluded, including those “who had a history of infection with SARS-CoV-2 or who had received a third dose were excluded from the current study”. 18F-FDG is a radiotracer used for cancer patients so cancer is not excluded.

When compared with nonvaccinated patients, vaccinated patients had a higher myocardial 18F-FDG uptake visual score (median, 2 [IQR, 0–3] vs 1 [IQR, 0–2]; P < .001) (Fig 3A) and SUVmax (median, 4.8 g/mL [IQR, 3.0–8.5 g/mL] vs 3.3 g/mL [IQR, 2.5–6.2 g/mL]; P < .001) (Fig 3B), which remained after age-adjustment for both measures (P < .001). In patients without cancer, 372 vaccinated individuals also showed a higher median myocardial FDG uptake visual score (median, 2 [IQR, 0–3]) and SUVmax (median, 4.8 g/mL [IQR, 3.2–8.3 g/mL]) compared with 150 nonvaccinated individuals (median visual score, 1 [IQR, 0–2]; median SUVmax, 3.3 g/mL [IQR, 2.6–6.3 g/mL]; P < .001 for both).

The median duration from first dose to imaging was 13 days, and from second dose to imaging was 88 days. But imaging after the second dose can be as late as 180 days.

Patients who underwent imaging 1–180 days after receiving their second vaccination had higher myocardial FDG uptake (median SUVmax range, 4.6–5.1 g/mL [range of IQRs, 2.9–8.6 g/mL]) than nonvaccinated patients (median SUVmax, 3.1 g/mL [IQR, 2.5–6.2 g/mL]; P < .001 to P = .001), but patients imaged more than 180 days after their second dose did not (median SUVmax, 4.5 g/mL [IQR, 2.7–9.3 g/mL]; P = .15) (Fig 4B).

I am not a medical professional but these observations indicate a change in the vaccinated heart’s metabolism. Does it indicate serious damage? Is there some permanent change (despite the above)? I don’t know but one wonders…

Figure 3: Qualitative and quantitative assessment of myocardial 18F-FDG uptake in vaccinated and nonvaccinated patients.
Figure 3: Qualitative and quantitative assessment of myocardial 18F-FDG uptake in vaccinated and nonvaccinated patients.

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