Measurement of head and neck paragangliomas: is volumetric analysis worth the effort? A method comparison study

Clin Otolaryngol. 2016 Oct;41(5):571-8. doi: 10.1111/coa.12562. Epub 2016 Feb 11.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the reproducibility of different measurement methods and define the most workable technique for measuring head and neck paragangliomas, to determine the best method for evaluating tumour growth. The evaluation of tumour growth is vital for a 'wait-and-scan' policy, a management strategy that became increasingly important.

Study design: Method comparison study.

Setting and participants: Thirty tumours, including carotid body, vagal body, jugulotympanic tumours and conglomerates of multiple tumours, were measured in duplicate, using linear dimensions, manual area tracing and an automated segmentation method.

Main outcome measures: Reproducibility was assessed using the Bland-Altman method.

Results: The smallest detectable difference using the linear dimension method was 11% for carotid body and 27% for vagal body tumours, compared with 17% and 20% for the manual area tracing method. Due to the irregular shape of paragangliomas in the temporal bone and conglomerates, the manual area tracing method showed better results in these tumours (26% and 8% versus 54% and 47%). The linear dimension method was significantly faster (median 4.27 versus 18.46 minutes, P < 0.001). The automatic segmentation method yielded smallest detectable differences between 39% and 75%, and although fast (2.19 ± 1.49 minutes), it failed technically.

Conclusions: Due to a relatively good reproducibility, fast and easy application, we found the linear dimension method to be the most pragmatic approach for evaluation of growth of carotid and vagal body paragangliomas. For jugulotympanic tumours, the preferred method is manual area tracing. However, volumetric changes of these tumours may be of less clinical importance than changes in relation to surrounding anatomical structures.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography
  • Male
  • Paraganglioma / diagnostic imaging
  • Paraganglioma / pathology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tumor Burden