Combination of FDG PET/CT and contrast-enhanced MSCT in detecting lymph node metastasis of esophageal cancer

Ru Tan, Shu-Zhan Yao, Zhao-Qin Huang, Jun Li, Xin Li, Hai-Hua Tan, Qing-Wei Liu
Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention: APJCP 2014, 15 (18): 7719-24

BACKGROUND: Lymph node metastasis is believed to be a dependent negative prognostic factor of esophageal cancer. To explore detection methods with high sensitivity and accuracy for metastases to regional and distant lymph nodes in the clinic is of great significance. This study focused on clinical application of FDG PET/CT and contrast-enhanced multiple-slice helical computed tomography (MSCT) in lymph node staging of esophageal cancer.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: One hundred and fifteen cases were examined with enhanced 64-slice-MSCT scan, and FDG PET/CT imaging was conducted for neck, chest and upper abdomen within one week. The primary lesion, location and numbers of metastatic lymph nodes were observed. Surgery was performed within one week after FDG PET/CT detection. All resected lesions were confirmed histopathologically as the gold standard. Comparative analysis of the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy based on FDG PET/CT and MSCT was conducted.

RESULTS: There were 946 lymph node groups resected during surgery from 115 patients, and 221 were confirmed to have metastasis pathologically. The sensitivity, specificity, accuracy of FDG PET/CT in detecting lymph node metastasis were 74.7%, 97.2% and 92.0%, while with MSCT they were 64.7%, 96.4%, and 89.0%, respectively. A significance difference was observed in sensitivity (p=0.030), but not the others (p>0.05). The accuracy of FDG PET/CT in detecting regional lymph node with or without metastasis were 91.9%, as compared to 89.4% for MSCT, while FDG PET/CT and MSCT values for detecting distant lymph node with or without metastasis were 94.4% and 94.7%. No significant difference was observed for either regional or distant lymph node metastasis. Additionally, for detecting para-esophageal lymph nodes metastasis, the sensitivity of FDG PET/CT was 72%, compared with 54.7% for MSCT (p=0.029).

CONCLUSIONS: FDG PET/CT is more sensitive than MSCT in detecting lymph node metastasis, especially for para-esophageal lymph nodes in esophageal cancer cases, although no significant difference was observed between FDG PET/CT and MSCT in detecting both regional and distant lymph node metastasis. However, enhanced MSCT was found to be of great value in distinguishing false negative metastatic lymph nodes from FDG PET/CT. The combination of FDG PET/CT with MSCT should improve the accuracy in lymph node metastasis staging of esophageal cancer.

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