JOURNAL ARTICLE

Whole-body nonenhanced PET/MR versus PET/CT in the staging and restaging of cancers: preliminary observations

Martin W Huellner, Philippe Appenzeller, Félix P Kuhn, Lars Husmann, Carsten M Pietsch, Irene A Burger, Miguel Porto, Gaspar Delso, Gustav K von Schulthess, Patrick Veit-Haibach
Radiology 2014, 273 (3): 859-69
25102372

PURPOSE: To assess the diagnostic performance of whole-body non-contrast material-enhanced positron emission tomography (PET)/magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and PET/computed tomography (CT) for staging and restaging of cancers and provide guidance for modality and sequence selection.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study was approved by the institutional review board and national government authorities. One hundred six consecutive patients (median age, 68 years; 46 female and 60 male patients) referred for staging or restaging of oncologic malignancies underwent whole-body imaging with a sequential trimodality PET/CT/MR system. The MR protocol included short inversion time inversion-recovery ( STIR short inversion time inversion-recovery ), Dixon-type liver accelerated volume acquisition ( LAVA liver accelerated volume acquisition ; GE Healthcare, Waukesha, Wis), and respiratory-gated periodically rotated overlapping parallel lines with enhanced reconstruction ( PROPELLER periodically rotated overlapping parallel lines with enhanced reconstruction ; GE Healthcare) sequences. Primary tumors (n = 43), local lymph node metastases (n = 74), and distant metastases (n = 66) were evaluated for conspicuity (scored 0-4), artifacts (scored 0-2), and reader confidence on PET/CT and PET/MR images. Subanalysis for lung lesions (n = 46) was also performed. Relevant incidental findings with both modalities were compared. Interreader agreement was analyzed with intraclass correlation coefficients and κ statistics. Lesion conspicuity, image artifacts, and incidental findings were analyzed with nonparametric tests.

RESULTS: Primary tumors were less conspicuous on STIR short inversion time inversion-recovery (3.08, P = .016) and LAVA liver accelerated volume acquisition (2.64, P = .002) images than on CT images (3.49), while findings with the PROPELLER periodically rotated overlapping parallel lines with enhanced reconstruction sequence (3.70, P = .436) were comparable to those at CT. In distant metastases, the PROPELLER periodically rotated overlapping parallel lines with enhanced reconstruction sequence (3.84) yielded better results than CT (2.88, P < .001). Subanalysis for lung lesions yielded similar results (primary lung tumors: CT, 3.71; STIR short inversion time inversion-recovery , 3.32 [P = .014]; LAVA liver accelerated volume acquisition , 2.52 [P = .002]; PROPELLER periodically rotated overlapping parallel lines with enhanced reconstruction , 3.64 [P = .546]). Readers classified lesions more confidently with PET/MR than PET/CT. However, PET/CT showed more incidental findings than PET/MR (P = .039), especially in the lung (P < .001). MR images had more artifacts than CT images.

CONCLUSION: PET/MR performs comparably to PET/CT in whole-body oncology and neoplastic lung disease, with the use of appropriate sequences. Further studies are needed to define regionalized PET/MR protocols with sequences tailored to specific tumor entities.

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