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Original Article
December 1999

Lymph Node Detection of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinomas by Positron Emission Tomography With Fluorodeoxyglucose F 18 in a Routine Clinical Setting

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Otorhinolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (Drs Kau, Alexiou, and Arnold) and Nuclear Medicine (Drs Laubenbacher and Schwaiger) and the Institute of Pathology (Dr Werner), Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1999;125(12):1322-1328. doi:10.1001/archotol.125.12.1322

Background  Accurate determination of lymph node involvement is a prerequisite for individualized therapy in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck region. In a previous study, we showed that positron emission tomography (PET) with fluorodeoxyglucose F 18 with and without attenuation correction is superior to magnetic resonance imaging for this purpose in a scientific setting.

Objective  To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of a shortened PET protocol (acquisition time, 20 minutes) in a routine clinical setting.

Design  The results of static, nonattenuation-corrected PET performed on patients in 2 bed positions starting 40 minutes after the intravenous injection of 370 MBq of fluorodeoxyglucose F 18 and the results of morphologic procedures (computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging) were compared prospectively in 70 patients for lymph node staging. Postoperative pathologic findings served as a criterion standard.

Setting  An academic medical center.

Results  The diagnostic accuracy of PET for detecting "neck sides" with malignant involvement was superior to morphologic procedures, with a sensitivity and specificity of 87% and 94%, respectively, compared with computed tomographic values of 65% and 47% and magnetic resonance imaging values of 88% and 41%, respectively.

Conclusion  A short PET protocol that is suitable for routine clinical use is superior to morphologic procedures (computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging) for the detection of lymph node involvement in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas.