Mediastinal lymph node sampling following positron emission tomography with fluorodeoxyglucose imaging in lung cancer staging

Chest. 2001 Aug;120(2):521-7. doi: 10.1378/chest.120.2.521.


Objectives: To evaluate the predictive accuracy as well as the rates of false-positive and false-negative results of CT and positron emission tomography (PET)-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) imaging in detecting the metastatic intrathoracic lymph nodes in patients with suspected or proven non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Our other objective was to determine the need for routine invasive sampling procedure in confirming PET/CT staging results.

Methods: The results of CT and PET-FDG scanning in 77 patients with suspected or proven NSCLC were correlated with the histologic findings of hilar/mediastinal lymph node sampling using mediastinoscopy, open biopsy, thoracotomy, or thoracotomy with resection. Patients were then classified into resectable and unresectable groups based initially on PET results and compared to histologic findings.

Results: The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of CT and PET for detecting metastatic lymphadenopathy were 68%, 61%, 63%, and 87%, 91%, and 82%, respectively. A change of management with routine sampling following PET was seen in five of six patients (83%) with false-positive findings (13%) but in none of four patients (9%) with false-negative findings.

Conclusion: The false-positive findings of PET-FDG imaging affected selection of treatment in 83% of patients. However, false-negative results did not change management in any patient. This could potentially prevent unnecessary invasive thoracotomy, mediastinoscopy, or other sampling procedures in patients with negative PET results.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology*
  • False Negative Reactions
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology*
  • Male
  • Mediastinum
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18