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Article
June 1996

Evaluation of Prevertebral Muscle Invasion by Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Can Computed Tomography Replace Open Neck Exploration?

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, Indiana University Medical Center, Indianapolis (Dr Righi); and the Departments of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery (Drs Kelley, Deutsch, Wilson, and Gluckman), and Radiology (Drs Ernst and Gaskill-Shipley), University of Cincinnati (Ohio) Medical Center.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122(6):660-663. doi:10.1001/archotol.1996.01890180066016
Abstract

Objective:  To compare computed tomography (CT) with open neck exploration in determining prevertebral invasion by squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx or hypopharynx.

Design:  Retrospective analysis using the findings at open neck exploration and results of histopathologic studies as the criterion standards.

Setting:  Tertiary care referral center.

Patients:  Twenty-nine of 40 patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx or hypopharynx treated between January 1, 1986, and December 31, 1994, were selected for analysis based on CT findings of posterolateral extension of the primary tumor placing the prevertebral muscle (PVM) at risk. All study patients had no previous therapy and underwent neck exploration to determine resectability.

Results:  Overall accuracy of CT in predicting PVM status was 55.2%. The sensitivity of preoperative CT for PVM invasion was 50%; the specificity was 61%. Using an estimate of 21% for the prevalence of PVM invasion, the predictive value of a positive CT scan was 0.254 and the predictive value of a negative CT scan was 0.821. Open neck exploration correctly predicted PVM status in all cases.

Conclusions:  Open neck exploration is superior to CT to evaluate possible PVM invasion by squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx or hypopharynx. The predictive value of a negative CT scan for PVM invasion is high, so it may be useful in treatment planning. Patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx or hypopharynx at risk for PVM invasion who are otherwise surgical candidates should be considered for open neck exploration to determine resectability most accurately.(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122:660-663)

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