Sensitivity of whole-body CT and MRI versus projection radiography in the detection of osteolyses in patients with monoclonal plasma cell disease

Maya B Wolf, Fritz Murray, Kerstin Kilk, Jens Hillengass, Stefan Delorme, Christiane Heiss, Kai Neben, Hartmut Goldschmidt, Hans-Ulrich Kauczor, Marc-André Weber
European Journal of Radiology 2014, 83 (7): 1222-30

PURPOSE: To compare sensitivity of whole-body Computed Tomography (wb-CT) and whole-body Magnetic Resonance Imaging (wb-MRI) with Projection Radiography (PR) regarding each method's ability to detect osteolyses in patients with monoclonal plasma cell disease.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: The bone status of 171 patients was evaluated. All patients presented with multiple myeloma (MM) of all stages, monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS) or solitary plasmacytoma. Two groups were formed. Group A consisted of 52 patients (26 females, 26 males) with an average age of 62 years (range, 45-89 years) who received, both, PR and wb-CT as part of their diagnostic work-up. Group B comprised 119 patients (58 females, 61 males) averaging 57 years of age (range, 20-80 years) who received, both, PR and wb-MRI. Two experienced radiologists were blinded regarding the disease status and assessed the number and location of osteolyses in consensus. A distinction was made between axial and extra-axial lesions.

RESULTS: In group A, wb-CT revealed osteolyses in 12 patients (23%) that were not detected in PR. CT was superior in detecting lesions in patients with osteopenia and osteoporosis. Compared with PR, wb-CT was significantly more sensitive in detecting osteolyses than PR (p<0.001). This was particularly true for axial lesions. Additionally, CT revealed clinically relevant incidental findings in 33 patients (63%). In group B, wb-MRI revealed lesions in 19 patients (16%) that were not detected in PR. All lesions detected by PR were also detected by wb-MRI and wb-CT. Wb-MRI and wb-CT are each superior to PR in detecting axial lesions.

CONCLUSION: Wb-CT can detect 23% more focal lesions than PR, especially in the axial skeleton. Therefore, this imaging method should be preferred over PR in the diagnostic work-up and staging of patients with monoclonal plasma cell disease.

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