Staging of malignant pleural mesothelioma: comparison of CT and MR imaging

R T Heelan, V W Rusch, C B Begg, D M Panicek, J F Caravelli, C Eisen
AJR. American Journal of Roentgenology 1999, 172 (4): 1039-47

OBJECTIVE: This article compares the accuracy of CT with that of MR imaging in staging of malignant pleural mesothelioma.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Ninety-five patients were enrolled in a prospective staging protocol based on the International Mesothelioma Interest Group staging system. Sixty-five patients underwent CT and MR imaging and a surgical procedure (excluding percutaneous needle biopsy) to stage and resect the tumor. Receiver operating characteristic analyses were performed. CT and MR scans were interpreted independently by observers who were unaware of the results of the other imaging study; these imaging findings were compared with the results of surgery and pathologic examination.

RESULTS: The areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves for eight of 10 features revealed by imaging showed no statistically significant differences between CT and MR imaging. However, MR imaging was superior to CT in revealing invasion of the diaphragm (A(z) = .55 for CT versus .82 for MR imaging) and in revealing invasion of endothoracic fascia or solitary resectable foci of chest wall invasion (A(z) = .46 for CT; A(z) = .69 for MR imaging). Several anatomic regions could not be evaluated because positive findings at surgery were rare.

CONCLUSION: CT and MR imaging are of nearly equivalent diagnostic accuracy in staging malignant pleural mesothelioma. MR imaging is superior to CT in revealing solitary foci of chest wall invasion and endothoracic fascia involvement and in showing diaphragmatic muscle invasion; however, this advantage does not affect surgical treatment. For cost reasons, CT should be considered the standard diagnostic study before therapy.

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