Neck ultrasound in staging squamous oesophageal carcinoma - a high yield technique

Clin Radiol. 2000 Sep;55(9):696-701. doi: 10.1053/crad.2000.0502.


Aim: This study evaluates the use of neck ultrasound in staging squamous oesophageal carcinoma.

Materials and methods: A prospective analysis of the clinical, neck ultrasound (US) and thoraco-abdominal computed tomography (CT) findings in 121 patients with squamous oesophageal carcinoma at presentation was performed. The relationship between malignant neck nodes, mediastinal and abdominal adenopathy, location and size of the primary tumour was analysed.

Results: Ten of 121 patients (8%) had clinically palpable neck nodes which were deemed malignant in six (5%) following US and fine-needle aspiration for cytology. Of those 111 patients with no palpable neck nodes, 31 (28%) had malignant nodes shown on US. The more cephalad the location of the primary tumour, the higher the frequency of malignant neck nodes which were found in 80%, 52%, 29% and 9% of cervical, upper thoracic, mid-thoracic and lower thoracic oesophageal tumours, respectively. Eleven (29%) of the 38 patients with malignant neck nodes shown on US had no CT evidence of additional adenopathy in the mediastinum or upper abdomen. Neck US altered TNM staging in 22/121 (18%) patients at presentation.

Conclusion: Neck US frequently detects clinically impalpable metastatic nodes leading to altered TNM staging in patients with squamous oesophageal carcinoma. We advocate its routine use when staging squamous oesophageal carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / secondary
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography