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The predictive value of single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography for sentinel lymph node localization in head and neck cutaneous malignancy.

Laryngoscope 2015 April
OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: Preoperative localization of sentinel lymph nodes in head and neck cutaneous malignancies can be aided by single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography (SPECT/CT); however, its true predictive value for identifying lymph nodes intraoperatively remains unquantified. This study aims to understand the sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of SPECT/CT in sentinel lymph node biopsy for cutaneous malignancies of the head and neck.

STUDY DESIGN: Blinded retrospective imaging review with comparison to intraoperative gamma probe confirmed sentinel lymph nodes.

METHODS: A consecutive series of patients with a head and neck cutaneous malignancy underwent preoperative SPECT/CT followed by sentinel lymph node biopsy with a gamma probe. Two nuclear medicine physicians, blinded to clinical data, independently reviewed each SPECT/CT. Activity within radiographically defined nodal basins was recorded and compared to intraoperative gamma probe findings. Sensitivity, specificity, and negative and positive predictive values were calculated with subgroup stratification by primary tumor site.

RESULTS: Ninety-two imaging reads were performed on 47 patients with cutaneous malignancy who underwent SPECT/CT followed by sentinel lymph node biopsy. Overall sensitivity was 73%, specificity 92%, positive predictive value 54%, and negative predictive value 96%. The predictive ability of SPECT/CT to identify the basin or an adjacent basin containing the single hottest node was 92%. SPECT/CT overestimated uptake by an average of one nodal basin. In the head and neck, SPECT/CT has higher reliability for primary lesions of the eyelid, scalp, and cheek.

CONCLUSIONS: SPECT/CT has high sensitivity, specificity, and negative predictive value, but may overestimate relevant nodal basins in sentinel lymph node biopsy.

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