Preoperative Prediction of Cervical Lymph Node Metastasis Using Primary Tumor SUVmax on 18F-FDG PET/CT in Patients with Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma

Ji-hoon Jung, Choon-Young Kim, Seung Hyun Son, Do-Hoon Kim, Shin Young Jeong, Sang-Woo Lee, Jaetae Lee, Byeong-Cheol Ahn
PloS One 2015, 10 (12): e0144152

OBJECTIVES: The aim of the current study was to evaluate the value of preoperative 18F-FDG (FDG) PET/CT in predicting cervical lymph node (LN) metastasis in patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC).

METHODS: One hundred and ninety-three newly diagnosed PTC patients (M: F = 25:168, age = 46.8 ± 12.2) who had undergone pretreatment FDG PET/CT and had neck node dissection were included in this study. The FDG avidity of the primary tumor and the SUVmax of the primary tumor (pSUVmax) were analyzed for prediction of LN metastasis. Detectability by ultrasonography (US) and FDG PET/CT for cervical LN metastasis were also assessed and compared with the pSUVmax.

RESULTS: The FDG avidity of the primary tumor was identified in 118 patients (FDG avid group: 61.0%, M: F = 16:102, age 47.0 ± 12.7 years) and pSUVmax ranged from 1.3 to 35.6 (median 4.6) in the FDG avid group. The tumor size in the FDG avid group was bigger and there was a higher incidence of LN metastasis compared to the FDG non-avid group (0.93 vs. 0.59 cm, p <0.001 and 49.2 vs. 33.3%, p <0.05). In the FDG avid group, patients with LN metastasis had higher pSUVmax than patients without LN metastasis (8.7 ± 8.3 vs. 5.7 ± 5.1, p <0.001). The incidence of central LN metastasis in patients with a pSUVmax >4.6 was 54%; however, the detectability of central LN metastasis by US and FDG PET/CT were 10.3% and 3.6%, respectively.

CONCLUSION: A high FDG avidity of the primary tumor was related to LN metastasis in PTC patients. Therefore, patients with a high pSUVmax should be cautiously assessed for LN metastasis and might need a more comprehensive surgical approach.

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