Whole-body PET/CT-colonography: a possible new concept for colorectal cancer staging

Abdom Imaging. Sep-Oct 2007;32(5):606-12. doi: 10.1007/s00261-007-9202-8.


Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of death, and necessitates a conjointly performed staging. Until now, a multi-step-examination including optical colonoscopy, cross-sectional and functional imaging is recommended. However, a single examination for whole-body staging with a dedicated CRC staging protocol is desirable. Thus, we developed and evaluated a combined whole-body PET/CT-colonography protocol for dedicated CRC staging in routine clinical use.

Methods: We integrated CT-colonography into a whole-body PET/CT protocol to achieve a specific "all-in-one" examination for patients suspected of having CRC. After oral and rectal bowel distension, PET/CT-colonography has been performed in 55 patients. All patients had optical colonoscopy one day before PET/CT. PET/CT data sets were evaluated concerning detection and evaluation of colorectal tumour sites, lymph nodes and distant metastases; these results were compared to the results of CT-colonography alone. Surgical resection and/or biopsy served as standards of reference in all patients.

Results: All examinations were fully diagnostic and well tolerated by the patients. PET/CT-colonography showed highly accurate results for overall TNM-evaluation and was significantly more accurate than CT-colonography alone.

Conclusions: Staging patients with whole-body PET/CT-colonography is technically feasible and accurate. Patients with incomplete colonoscopy or potential synchronous bowel lesions might benefit from this approach.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Colonic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colonography, Computed Tomographic / methods*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Rectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Rectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Whole Body Imaging / methods*