Aim: To evaluate the value of miniprobe sonography (MPS), spiral CT and MR imaging (MRI) in the tumor and regional lymph node staging of esophageal cancer.
Methods: Eight-six patients (56 men and 30 women; age range of 39-73 years, mean 62 years) with esophageal carcinoma were staged preoperatively with imaging modalities. Of them, 81 (94 %) had squamous cell carcinoma, 4(5 %) adenocarcinoma, and 1(1 %) adenoacanthoma. Eleven patients (12 %) had malignancy of the upper one third, 41 (48 %) of the mid-esophagus and 34 (40 %) of the distal one third. Forty-one were examined by spiral CT in whom 13 were co-examined by MPS, and forty-five by MRI in whom 18 were also co-examined by MPS. These imaging results were compared with the findings of the histopathologic examination for resected specimens.
Results: In staging the depth of tumor growth, MPS was significantly more accurate (84 %) than spiral CT and MRI (68 % and 60 %, respectively, P<0.05). The specificity and sensitivity were 82 % and 85 % for MPS; 60 % and 69 % for spiral CT; and 40 % and 63 % for MRI, respectively. In staging regional lymph nodes, spiral CT was more accurate (78 %) than MPS and MRI (71 % and 64 %, respectively), but the difference was not statistically significant. The specificity and sensitivity were 79 % and 77 % for spiral CT; 75 % and 68 % for MPS; and 68 % and 62 % for MRI, respectively.
Conclusion: MPS is superior to spiral CT or MRI for T staging, especially in early esophageal cancer. However, the three modalities have the similar accuracy in N staging. Spiral CT or MRI is helpful for the detection of far-distance metastasis in esophageal cancer.