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Carotid artery invasion by head and neck masses: prediction with MR imaging.

Radiology 1995 June
PURPOSE: To determine the value of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in predicting resectability of head and neck neoplasms around the carotid arteries.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Forty-nine patients (28 male patients and 21 female patients aged 17-79 years; mean, 57.3 years) with head and neck masses and clinical evidence of carotid wall invasion underwent MR imaging. T1-weighted, T2-weighted, and gadolinium-enhanced T1-weighted images were analyzed to determine circumferential involvement of 53 arteries by tumor.

RESULTS: More than 270 degrees of circumferential involvement was considered suggestive of unresectability of the malignant neoplasm; 270 degrees or less was considered lack of invasion. The sensitivity of MR imaging for determination of unresectable disease was 100% (12 of 12 cases), specificity was 88% (36 of 41), and accuracy was 91% (48 of 53). Accuracy was 100% for squamous cell carcinoma (n = 29).

CONCLUSION: Tumor that encompasses more than 270 degrees of the carotid artery probably cannot be removed from the artery. Tumor that involves 270 degrees or less of the artery can be removed.

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