JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Diagnostic ability of multi-detector spiral computed tomography for pathological lymph node metastasis of advanced gastric cancer.

BACKGROUND: The reliability of preoperative nodal diagnosis of advanced gastric cancer by multi-detector spiral computed tomography (MDCT) is still unclear.

AIM: To examine the diagnostic ability of MDCT more precisely by using data on intranodal pathological metastatic patterns.

METHODS: A total of 108 patients with advanced gastric cancer who underwent MDCT and curative gastrectomy at Kanazawa Medical University Hospital were enrolled in this study. The nodal sizes measured on computed tomography (CT) images were compared with the pathology results. A receiver-operating characteristic curve was constructed, from which the critical value (CV) was calculated by using the data of the first 69 patients retrospectively. By using the CV, sensitivity and specificity were calculated with prospectively collected data from 39 consecutive patients. This enabled a more precise one-to-one correspondence of lymph nodes between CT and pathological examination by using the size data of lymph node mapping. The intranodal pathological metastatic patterns were classified into the following four types: Small nodular, peripheral, large nodular, and diffuse.

RESULTS: Although all the cases were clinically suspected as having metastasis, 81 had lymph node metastasis and 27 had no metastasis. The number of dissected, detected on CT, and metastatic nodes were, 4241, 897, and 801, respectively. The CV obtained from the receiver-operating characteristic was 7.6 mm for the long axis. The sensitivity was 91.4% and the specificity was 47.3% in the prospective phase. The large nodular and diffuse metastases were easy to diagnose because metastatic nodes with a large axis often exhibit these forms.

CONCLUSION: The ability of MDCT to contribute to a nodal diagnosis of advanced gastric cancer was examined prospectively with precise size data from node mapping, using a CV of 7.6 mm for the long axis that was calculated from the retrospectively collected data. The sensitivity was as high as 91%, and would be improved when referring to the enhanced patterns. However, its specificity was as low as 47%, because most of metastatic nodes in gastric cancer being small in size. The small nodular or peripheral type metastatic nodes were often small and considered difficult to diagnose.

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