Purpose: To study the impact of fused (18)F-fluoro-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG)-hybrid positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) images on conformal radiotherapy planning for esophageal carcinoma patients.
Methods and materials: Thirty-four esophageal carcinoma patients were referred for concomitant radiotherapy and chemotherapy with radical intent. Each patient underwent CT and FDG-hybrid PET for simulation treatment in the same treatment position. PET images were coregistered using five fiducial markers. Target delineation was initially performed on CT images, and the corresponding PET data were subsequently used as an overlay to CT data to define the target volume.
Results: (18)F-fluorodeoxy-D-glucose-PET identified previously undetected distant metastatic disease in 2 patients, making them ineligible for curative conformal radiotherapy. The gross tumor volume (GTV) was decreased by CT and FDG image fusion in 12 patients (35%) and increased in 7 patients (21%). The GTV reduction was > or =25% in 4 patients owing to a reduction in the length of the esophageal tumor. The GTV increase was > or =25% with FDG-PET in 2 patients owing to the detection of occult mediastinal lymph node involvement in 1 patient and an increased length of the esophageal tumor in 1 patient. Modifications of the GTV affected the planning treatment volume in 18 patients. Modifications of the delineation of the GTV and displacement of the isocenter of the planning treatment volume by FDG-PET also affected the percentage of total lung volume receiving >20 Gy in 25 patients (74%), with a dose reduction in 12 patients and dose increase in 13.
Conclusion: In our study, CT and FDG-PET image fusion appeared to have an impact on treatment planning and management of esophageal carcinoma. The affect on treatment outcome remains to be demonstrated.