A top molecular imaging advocate on Tuesday offered up suggestions for radiologists and other docs encountering lymph node changes on PET/CT scans caused by COVID-19 vaccinations.
In its March 30 update, the Society of Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging said reactive lymphadenopathy has been recorded in up to 16% of patients who’ve received either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. This side effect hasn’t yet been reported in the Johnson & Johnson shot, SNMMI added.
A number of guidelines suggest delaying imaging 4-6 weeks after vaccination, when possible. But it’s unclear whether six weeks after the second dose is enough to ensure any abnormalities are resolved, SNMMI’s COVID-19 Task Force said Tuesday. The update aligns with many current recommendations, including those from the University of Massachusetts Medical School/Memorial Health Care published earlier this month.
Additionally, the task force said it has anecdotally heard of post-vaccine splenomegaly/increased splenic uptake. The organization outlined three recommendations based on current information.
- Physicians should understand that swollen lymph nodes can happen in the axillary and possibly lower cervical/supraclavicular areas on the side of vaccine injection. This may be seen 4-6 weeks after a patient’s most recent dose.
- Patient intake forms should be changed to include information about the date and site of injection, and which vaccine was received.
- Individuals with a history of breast, and head and neck cancers should receive their vaccine on the opposite side of where their disease is located, when possible.