Non-enhanced CT versus contrast-enhanced CT in integrated PET/CT studies for nodal staging of rectal cancer

Ukihide Tateishi, Tetsuo Maeda, Tsuyoshi Morimoto, Mototaka Miyake, Yasuaki Arai, E Edmund Kim
European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 2007, 34 (10): 1627-34

PURPOSE: The purpose of the present study was to determine the diagnostic accuracy of non-enhanced CT and contrast-enhanced CT in integrated PET/CT studies for preoperative nodal staging of rectal cancer.

METHODS: Retrospective analysis was performed in 53 patients with pathologically proven rectal cancer who had been referred for preoperative staging. All patients underwent integrated PET/CT consisting of non-enhanced and contrast-enhanced CT followed by whole-body fluorine-18-fluorodeoxyglucose ([(18)F]FDG) PET. Both non-enhanced and contrast-enhanced PET/CT images were evaluated separately by two observers in consensus. The reference standard was histopathologic results. For nodal staging of rectal cancer, we compared diagnostic accuracy on a per-patient basis between the two modalities.

RESULTS: Nodal staging was correctly determined with non-enhanced studies in 37 patients (70%) and with contrast-enhanced studies in 42 patients (79%). On a per-patient basis, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy of regional lymph node staging were 85%, 68%, 83%, 72%, and 79%, respectively, with contrast-enhanced studies, and 85%, 42%, 73%, 62%, and 70%, respectively, with non-enhanced studies. The difference in the accuracy of nodal staging between the two modalities was not significant (p = 0.063). Compared with non-enhanced studies, contrast-enhanced studies determined more correctly the status of pararectal lymph nodes (p = 0.002), internal iliac lymph nodes (p = 0.004), and obturator lymph nodes (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSION: Contrast-enhanced PET/CT is superior to non-enhanced PET/CT for precise definition of regional nodal status in rectal cancer.

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