Multidetector CT and virtual endoscopy in the evaluation of the esophagus

S Mazzeo, D Caramella, A Gennai, P Giusti, E Neri, L Melai, C Cappelli, R Bertini, A Capria, M Rossi, C Bartolozzi
Abdominal Imaging 2004, 29 (1): 2-8
In this prospective study, we assessed the diagnostic capabilities of multidetector computed tomography (CT) in various esophageal pathologic conditions. Thirty-three patients underwent a multidetector CT study after esophageal distention by means of effervescent powder administered after induction of pharmacologic esophageal hypotonia. All acquired images were post-processed with two- and three-dimensional software tools. The CT data were compared with the results of conventional radiology (33), endoscopy (28), endoscopy ultrasonography (14), or surgery (14). Follow-up ranged between 4 and 15 months. Esophageal distention in the upper and middle thirds was classified as "good" in 32 of 33 cases (97%); in the lower third, esophageal distention was "good" in 21 of 33 cases (64%). Final diagnoses were leiomyoma (six cases), squamous cell carcinoma (six), adenocarcinoma (four), esophageal infiltration by thyroid cancer (two), benign polyposis (two), chronic esophagitis (five), post-sclerotherapy stenosis (one), no abnormalities (seven). When good distention was achieved, the thickness of unaffected esophageal wall was less than 3 mm (range, 1.5-2.4 mm; mean, 1.9 mm). Pathologic wall thickening was observed in 25 of 33 cases (76%), with values ranging between 3.6 and 36 mm (mean, 9.6 mm). Spiral CT demonstrated 21 true positive cases, and seven true negative cases. There were four false negative cases and one false positive case. Sensitivity was 84%, specificity was 87%, diagnostic accuracy was 85%, positive predictive value was 95%, and negative predictive value was 64%. Evaluation of the esophagus with multidetector CT is a promising technique and easy to use, allowing panoramic exploration, virtual endoluminal visualization, accurate longitudinal and axial evaluations, and simultaneous evaluation of T and N parameters.

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