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Tumor Lesion Detection: When Is Integrated Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography More Accurate Than Side-by-Side Interpretation of Positron Emission Tomography and Computed Tomography?

Metser, Ur MD*†; Golan, Orit MD; Levine, Charles D MD; Even-Sapir, Einat MD, PhD*

Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography: July-August 2005 - Volume 29 - Issue 4 - p 554-559
doi: 10.1097/01.rct.0000164671.96143.c2
Whole Body Imaging: Original Article
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Objectives: To determine if there is added value to oncology studies performed with a dedicated in-line positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) scanner as compared with PET read side by side with diagnostic CT (DCT).

Methods: Forty-one consecutive oncology patients referred for PET/CT who had contemporary DCT scans for review were enrolled. Body regions assessed on a DCT scan were assessed on PET/CT and by side-by-side reading of PET and DCT (SBS PET/DCT). Lesions identified on DCT, the CT portion of PET/CT, SBS PET/DCT, and the reading of fused PET/CT images were scored as benign or malignant. The PET portion of the PET/CT study was read by 2 teams: the first read the SBS PET/DCT scan and the other read the complete fused PET/CT scan. For discordant lesions, the final diagnosis was determined by pathologic findings (n = 6) or imaging follow-up (n = 21).

Results: Twenty-seven (16.1%) of the 168 lesions were discordant when comparing analysis of fused PET/CT and SBS PET/DCT. Sixteen (9.5%) were fundamentally discordant, and 11(6.6%) were discordant in degree of confidence. For all discordant lesions only, the sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value, positive predictive value, and accuracy for PET/CT were 100%, 33%, 100%, 94%, and 78%, respectively, and for SBS PET/DCT, they were 38%, 50%, 19%, 73%, and 30%, respectively (P < 0.001 for sensitivity, P = not specific for specificity). The 2 main causes for misclassification on SBS PET/DCT were incorrect localization (n = 12) and changes occurring in the time gap between DCT and PET/CT (n = 4).

Conclusions: In-line PET/CT offers better lesion localization in comparison to the visual fusion of PET and CT, especially for small lymph nodes, lesions adjacent to mobile organs, or lesions adjacent to the chest or abdominal wall.

From the *Department of Nuclear Medicine, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel, and †Department of Radiology, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel.

Received for publication January 6, 2005; accepted March 24, 2005.

Reprints: Ur Metser, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, 6 Weizman Street, Tel-Aviv, 64239 Israel (e-mail: umetser@tasmc.health.gov.il).

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.