Whole-body-MR imaging including DWIBS in the work-up of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: a feasibility study

Daniel P Noij, Els J Boerhout, Indra C Pieters-van den Bos, Emile F Comans, Daniela Oprea-Lager, Rinze Reinhard, Otto S Hoekstra, Remco de Bree, Pim de Graaf, Jonas A Castelijns
European Journal of Radiology 2014, 83 (7): 1144-51

OBJECTIVES: To assess the feasibility of whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (WB-MRI) including diffusion-weighted whole-body imaging with background-body-signal-suppression (DWIBS) for the evaluation of distant malignancies in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC); and to compare WB-MRI findings with (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography ((18)F-FDG-PET/CT) and chest-CT.

METHODS: Thirty-three patients with high risk for metastatic spread (26 males; range 48-79 years, mean age 63 ± 7.9 years (mean ± standard deviation) years) were prospectively included with a follow-up of six months. WB-MRI protocol included short-TI inversion recovery and T1-weighted sequences in the coronal plane and half-fourier acquisition single-shot turbo spin-echo T2 and contrast-enhanced-T1-weighted sequences in the axial plane. Axial DWIBS was reformatted in the coronal plane. Interobserver variability was assessed using weighted kappa and the proportion specific agreement (PA).

RESULTS: Two second primary tumors and one metastasis were detected on WB-MRI. WB-MRI yielded seven clinically indeterminate lesions which did not progress at follow-up. The metastasis and one second primary tumor were found when combining (18)F-FDG-PET/CT and chest-CT findings. Interobserver variability for WB-MRI was κ=0.91 with PA ranging from 0.82 to 1.00. For (18)F-FDG-PET/CT κ could not be calculated due to a constant variable in the table and PA ranged from 0.40 to 0.99.

CONCLUSIONS: Our WB-MRI protocol with DWIBS is feasible in the work-up of HNSCC patients for detection and characterization of distant pathology. WB-MRI can be complementary to (18)F-FDG-PET/CT, especially in the detection of non (18)F-FDG avid second primary tumors.

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