Aim: To evaluate the utility of diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) in differentiating post-treatment changes from tumour recurrence in head and neck cancers and to establish a threshold apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) value to differentiate the two conditions.
Materials and methods: This was a prospective study of 80 treated head and neck cancer patients. The patient cohort consisted of a wide spectrum of head and neck sites, including the oral cavity, oropharynx, larynx, hypopharynx, paranasal sinuses, orbits, salivary glands, and infra-temporal fossa. Qualitative analysis of the diffusion images and quantitative analysis of the corresponding ADC maps was performed and the data were correlated with histopathological findings and clinical examinations.
Results: The mean ADC value of recurrent tumours in the present cohort was 0. 932±0.19×10-3 mm2/s and the mean ADC value of lesions representing post-treatment changes was 1.394±0.32×10-3 mm2/s. A threshold ADC value of 1.2×10-3mm2/s used to differentiate post-treatment changes from recurrent head and neck cancers showed the highest combined sensitivity of 90.13%, specificity of 82.5%, accuracy of 86.4%, positive predictive value of 84.4%, negative predictive value of 88.9%, and mean kappa measurement of agreement of 72.8.
Conclusion: Combined qualitative and quantitative analysis of DWI is a useful non-invasive technique to differentiate recurrent head and neck malignancies from post-treatment changes using a threshold ADC value.
Copyright © 2016 The Royal College of Radiologists. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.