Background: Lymph node metastasis is believed to be a dependent negative prognostic factor of esophagealcancer. To explore detection methods with high sensitivity and accuracy for metastases to regional and distantlymph nodes in the clinic is of great significance. This study focused on clinical application of FDG PET/CT andcontrast-enhanced multiple-slice helical computed tomography (MSCT) in lymph node staging of esophagealcancer. Materials and
Methods: One hundred and fifteen cases were examined with enhanced 64-slice-MSCTscan, and FDG PET/CT imaging was conducted for neck, chest and upper abdomen within one week. Theprimary lesion, location and numbers of metastatic lymph nodes were observed. Surgery was performed withinone week after FDG PET/CT detection. All resected lesions were confirmed histopathologically as the goldstandard. Comparative analysis of the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy based on FDG PET/CT and MSCTwas conducted.
Results: There were 946 lymph node groups resected during surgery from 115 patients, and221 were confirmed to have metastasis pathologically. The sensitivity, specificity, accuracy of FDG PET/CT indetecting lymph node metastasis were 74.7%, 97.2% and 92.0%, while with MSCT they were 64.7%, 96.4%, and89.0%, respectively. A significance difference was observed in sensitivity (p=0.030), but not the others (p>0.05).The accuracy of FDG PET/CT in detecting regional lymph node with or without metastasis were 91.9%, ascompared to 89.4% for MSCT, while FDG PET/CT and MSCT values for detecting distant lymph node with orwithout metastasis were 94.4% and 94.7%. No significant difference was observed for either regional or distantlymph node metastasis. Additionally, for detecting para-esophageal lymph nodes metastasis, the sensitivity ofFDG PET/CT was 72%, compared with 54.7% for MSCT (p=0.029).
Conclusions: FDG PET/CT is more sensitivethan MSCT in detecting lymph node metastasis, especially for para-esophageal lymph nodes in esophagealcancer cases, although no significant difference was observed between FDG PET/CT and MSCT in detectingboth regional and distant lymph node metastasis. However, enhanced MSCT was found to be of great value indistinguishing false negative metastatic lymph nodes from FDG PET/CT. The combination of FDG PET/CTwith MSCT should improve the accuracy in lymph node metastasis staging of esophageal cancer.