Pretreatment differentiation of renal cell carcinoma subtypes by CT: the influence of different tumor enhancement measurement approaches

Ivan Zokalj, Miljenko Marotti, Branko Kolarić
International Urology and Nephrology 2014, 46 (6): 1089-100

PURPOSE: We conducted a retrospective study to evaluate the influence of different tumor enhancement measurement approaches on the ability of computed tomography (CT) to differentiate between solid forms of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC), other RCC histologic subtypes and oncocytomas. Different RCC subtypes have a diverse range of malignant potential; consequently, the information about RCC subtype obtained using minimally invasive imaging method before the treatment could allow the more accurate therapy planning. Differentiation of ccRCCs from oncocytomas is important because oncocytomas are usually benign tumors which could be treated conservatively.

METHODS: CT images of 113 patients with 118 solid renal tumors were evaluated. The imaging protocol consisted pre-contrast and post-contrast images during the arterial and nephrographic phases. Renal tumor attenuation values were measured using region of interest covering as much of the solid enhancing tumor tissue as possible. Tumor attenuation values and tumor enhancement ratios were correlated with histologic subtype. One hundred of tumors were diagnosed as clear cell RCC, nine as non-clear cell RCC and nine as oncocytoma.

RESULTS: Tumor attenuation values of >74 HU on the arterial phase scans significantly correlated with clear cell RCC (Az 0.73). The tumor-to-aorta enhancement ratios calculated on tumor attenuation values measured on the arterial phase scans had a cutoff value of >0.29, which significantly correlated with clear cell RCC (Az 0.79). All ROC curves for differentiating the clear cell RCC from oncocytomas have area under the curve too small (0.5 or less) to have chose cutoff value with sensitivity and specificity that could be applied in clinical work.

CONCLUSION: Enhancement measurements of renal carcinomas on CT images in the arterial phase can be used as an auxiliary method in the pretreatment differentiation of solid forms of the most frequent RCC subtypes in patients not suitable for core biopsy but who are suitable for minimally invasive treatment methods and/or targeted therapy.

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