Thoracic staging in lung cancer: prospective comparison of 18F-FDG PET/MR imaging and 18F-FDG PET/CT

Philipp Heusch, Christian Buchbender, Jens Köhler, Felix Nensa, Thomas Gauler, Benedikt Gomez, Henning Reis, Georgios Stamatis, Hilmar Kühl, Verena Hartung, Till A Heusner
Journal of Nuclear Medicine: Official Publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine 2014, 55 (3): 373-8

UNLABELLED: Therapeutic decisions in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients depend on the tumor stage. PET/CT with (18)F-FDG is widely accepted as the diagnostic standard of care. The purpose of this study was to compare a dedicated pulmonary (18)F-FDG PET/MR imaging protocol with (18)F-FDG PET/CT for primary and locoregional lymph node staging in NSCLC patients using histopathology as the reference.

METHODS: Twenty-two patients (12 men, 10 women; mean age ± SD, 65.1 ± 9.1 y) with histopathologically confirmed NSCLC underwent (18)F-FDG PET/CT, followed by (18)F-FDG PET/MR imaging, including a dedicated pulmonary MR imaging protocol. T and N staging according to the seventh edition of the American Joint Committee on Cancer staging manual was performed by 2 readers in separate sessions for (18)F-FDG PET/CT and PET/MR imaging, respectively. Results from histopathology were used as the standard of reference. The mean and maximum standardized uptake value (SUV(mean) and SUV(max), respectively) and maximum diameter of the primary tumor was measured and compared in (18)F-FDG PET/CT and PET/MR imaging.

RESULTS: PET/MR imaging and (18)F-FDG PET/CT agreed on T stages in 16 of 16 of patients (100%). All patients were correctly staged by (18)F-FDG PET/CT and PET/MR (100%), compared with histopathology. There was no statistically significant difference between (18)F-FDG PET/CT and (18)F-FDG PET/MR imaging for lymph node metastases detection (P = 0.48). For definition of thoracic N stages, PET/MR imaging and (18)F-FDG PET/CT were concordant in 20 of 22 patients (91%). PET/MR imaging determined the N stage correctly in 20 of 22 patients (91%). (18)F-FDG PET/CT determined the N stage correctly in 18 of 22 patients (82%). The mean differences for SUV(mean) and SUV(max) of NSCLC in (18)F-FDG PET/MR imaging and (18)F-FDG PET/CT were 0.21 and -5.06. These differences were not statistically significant (P > 0.05). The SUV(mean) and SUV(max) measurements derived from (18)F-FDG PET/CT and (18)F-FDG PET/MR imaging exhibited a high correlation (R = 0.74 and 0.86, respectively; P < 0.0001). Size measurements showed an excellent correlation between (18)F-FDG PET/MR imaging and (18)F-FDG PET/CT (R = 0.99; P < 0.0001). The lower and upper limits of agreement between (18)F-FDG PET/CT and (18)F-FDG PET/MR imaging using Bland-Altman analysis were -2.34 to 3.89 for SUV(mean), -7.42 to 4.40 for SUV(max), and -0.59 to 0.83 for the tumor size, respectively.

CONCLUSION: (18)F-FDG PET/MR imaging using a dedicated pulmonary MR imaging protocol, compared with (18)F-FDG PET/CT, does not provide advantages in thoracic staging in NSCLC patients.

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