Clinical value of whole-body emission tomography in potentially curable colorectal liver metastases

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2001 Mar;27(2):175-9. doi: 10.1053/ejso.2000.1075.


Aims: In selected patients with colorectal liver metastases, hepatic resection offers an opportunity for cure, with a 25-38% 5-year survival rate. The aim of this prospective study was to evaluate whether patient selection could be improved with pre-operative whole-body 18-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) scan.

Methods: Ninety-one consecutive patients were considered to be eligible for liver resection after investigation with conventional diagnostic methods (CDM). In all these patients a whole-body PET scan with FDG was performed prior to surgery. Follow-up was complete with a mean of 23 months (2 weeks-92 months). All PET images were reviewed blinded to intraoperative and follow-up data.

Results: PET confirmed liver metastases in 90 (99%) patients, while it provided additional information in 10 (11%) patients, i.e., seven intra-abdominal, and three extra-abdominal. PET falsely upstaged six (6.6%) patients in whom malignancy was excluded by additional investigation, at the time of surgery, or during follow-up. PET falsely understaged seven (7.7%) patients with small intra-abdominal lesions.

Conclusion: In patients with potentially curable colorectal liver metastases according to conventional diagnostic methods, whole-body FDG-PET can be considered as a complementary examination in order to further select patients for potentially curative liver resection, and to optimize therapeutic strategy.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods*
  • Whole-Body Irradiation


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18