Integrated imaging using MRI and 123I metaiodobenzylguanidine scintigraphy to improve sensitivity and specificity in the diagnosis of pediatric neuroblastoma

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2003 Oct;181(4):1115-24. doi: 10.2214/ajr.181.4.1811115.


Objective: The objectives of this study were to compare MRI and iodine-123 ((123)I) metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scintigraphy in the detection of neuroblastoma lesions in pediatric patients and to assess the additional value of combined imaging.

Materials and methods: Fifty MRI and 50 (123)I MIBG examinations (mean interval, 6.4 days) were analyzed retrospectively with regard to suspected or proven neuroblastoma lesions (n = 193) in 28 patients. MRI and MIBG scans were reviewed by two independent observers each. Separate and combined analyses of MRI and MIBG scintigraphy were compared with clinical and histologic findings.

Results: With regard to the diagnosis of neuroblastoma lesion, MIBG scintigraphy, MRI, and combined analysis showed a sensitivity of 69%, 86%, and 99% and a specificity of 85%, 77%, and 95%, respectively. On MRI, 15 false-positive findings were recorded: posttherapeutic reactive changes (n = 10), benign adrenal tumors (n = 3), and enlarged lymph nodes (n = 2). On MIBG scintigraphy, 10 false-positive findings occurred: ganglioneuromas (n = 2), benign liver tumors (n = 2), and physiologic uptake (n = 6). Thirteen neuroblastoma metastases and two residual masses under treatment with chemotherapy were judged to be false-negative findings on MRI. Two primary or residual neuroblastomas and one orbital metastasis were misinterpreted as Wilms' tumor, reactive changes after surgery, and rhabdomyosarcoma on MRI. Thirty-two bone metastases, six other neuroblastoma metastases, and one adrenal neuroblastoma showed no MIBG uptake. On combined imaging, one false-negative (bone metastasis) and three false-positive (two ganglioneuromas and one pheochromocytoma) findings remained.

Conclusion: In the assessment of neuroblastoma lesions in pediatric patients, MRI showed a higher sensitivity and MIBG scintigraphy a higher specificity. However, integrated imaging showed an increase in both sensitivity and specificity.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Iodobenzenes*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Neuroblastoma / diagnosis*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Iodobenzenes
  • 4-iodobenzylguanidine