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December 1987

Metastatic Neck Disease: A Clinical/Radiographic/Pathologic Correlative Study

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Otolaryngology, Mount Sinai Hospital (Drs Feinmesser, Freeman, and Noyek) and Sunnybrook Medical Centre (Dr Birt), Toronto.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1987;113(12):1307-1310. doi:10.1001/archotol.1987.01860120053007

• The concept of treating prophylactically the neck of the patient with head and neck cancer is based on the presence of neck metastases in a large number of cases, even if not always detected by physical examination. A modality that could reveal abnormal nodes accurately would change this management attitude so that a number of necks could be left untreated. A retrospective comparative study was undertaken to determine whether high-resolution computed tomographic (CT) scanning might play this role, and whether it has any advantage over physical examination. The radiographic findings of 79 patients with head and neck cancer who had undergone a total of 100 neck dissections were compared with the findings of physical and histo pathologic examinations. This study shows similar sensitivity rates for both physical examination and CT scanning (61.55% and 59.6%, respectively) and slight superiority of the positive predictive values of physical examination (91.4%) over those of CT scanning (81.6%). The study suggests that CT offers no advantage over physical examination and should therefore not be used for neck management decisions. Measuring the size of involved lymph nodes showed that occult nodes fall within the same range as normal nodes and thus cannot be differentiated from normal nodes by size alone.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1987;113:1307-1310)

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