Background: We investigated the accuracy of performing cervical nodal evaluation with using integrated (18)F-fluoro deoxyglucose positron emission tomography (PET)/CT for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the head and neck as compared with using PET and contrast-enhanced CT (CECT) alone.
Methods: The presence of metastatic lymphadenopathy in each cervical nodal group (level I-VI) and the nodal (N) classification of 47 patients with SCC of the head and neck were determined by using PET, CECT, and PET/CT, respectively, and the results were verified according to the histopathologic findings.
Results: Among the 91 foci that had abnormal uptake on PET, the combined PET/CT images provided additional information over PET for the anatomical localization and lesion characterization of 18 sites (19.8%) in 17 patients (36.2%). PET/CT also showed the best results among the three imaging modalities for the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy (91.8, 98.9, and 97.1%, respectively) for predicting metastatic nodes on a level-by-level analysis, and PET/CT had a higher accuracy (85.1%) for the pathologic nodal classification over the clinical examinations (68.1%) or PET (70.2%).
Conclusions: Combined PET/CT images are more accurate than the PET or CECT images alone for conducting cervical node evaluation in the patients suffering with head and neck SCC.