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