Diffusion-weighted MR imaging in comparison to integrated [¹⁸F]-FDG PET/CT for N-staging in patients with lung cancer

Sandra Pauls, Stefan A Schmidt, Markus S Juchems, Oliver Klass, Markus Luster, Sven Norbert Reske, Hans-Juergen Brambs, Sebastian Feuerlein
European Journal of Radiology 2012, 81 (1): 178-82

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to prospectively determine the diagnostic accuracy of diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) using MRI in the staging of thoracic lymph nodes in patients with lung cancer, and to compare the performance to that of PET/CT.

PATIENTS AND METHOD: 20 consecutive patients (pts) with histologically proven lung cancer were included in this study. In all pts FDG-PET/CT was routinely performed to stage lung carcinoma. Additionally, MRI (1.5T) was performed including native T1w, T1w post contrast medium, T2w, and DWI sequences. Regarding the N stage based on the results of the PET/CT there were 5 patients with N0, 3 patients with N1, 5 patients with N2 and 7 patients with N3. Image analysis was performed by two radiologists (R1 and R2), respectively. The reviewers had to chose between 1 (at least one lymph node within a station is malignant) or 0 (no lymph nodes suspicious for malignancy). First the T1 post contrast sequence was analyzed. In a second step the DWI sequence (b=800) was analyzed. Both steps were performed in a blinded fashion.

RESULTS: MR imaging with or without DWI only agreed with the results of the PET/CT regarding the N stage in 80% of the patients-15% were understaged and 5% overstaged. There was excellent interobserver agreement; the N-staging result only differed in 1 patient for DWI, resulting in correlation coefficients of 0.98 for DWI and 1.0 for MRI. Compared to PET-CT MRI overstaged one and understaged 4 patients, while DWI overstaged one and understaged 3 patients. This resulted in correlation coefficients of 0.814 (R1 and R2) for MRI and 0.815 (R1) and 0.804 (R2) for DWI. Regarding the ADC values there were no significant differences between ipsilateral hilar (1.03 mm(2)/s ± 0.13), subcarinal (0.96 mm(2)/s±0.24), ipsilateral mediastinal (1.0mm(2)/s ± 0.18), contralateral mediastinal (0.93 mm(2)/s ± 0.23) and supraclavicular (0.9 mm(2)/s ± 0.23) lymph nodes.

CONCLUSION: Diffusion-weighted imaging does not show a clear advantage over conventional MR protocols in the N-staging of lung cancer. MRI with or without DWI shows a moderately correlation with PET/CT with a tendency for understaging.

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