Evaluation of 18FDG PET-CT-positive mediastinal-hilar lymph nodes in extrathoracic malignancies by EBUS-TBNA; correlation of SUVmax, and short-axis diameter with the final diagnosis

Indian J Cancer. 2021 Sep 30. doi: 10.4103/ijc.IJC_687_19. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Intrathoracic lymph node metastasis from extrathoracic neoplasms are rare. Primary malignancies that metastasize to mediastinal-hilar lymph nodes are head and neck , carcinoma breast ,and genitourinary. Endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA)/endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) is currently the preferred modality for mediastinal lymph node sampling.

Methods: Fifty seven patients with extrathoracic malignancies with maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) of mediastinal-hilar lymph nodes greater than or equal to 2.5 were taken up for EBUS-TBNA. The histo-cytopathological results obtained from EBUS-TBNA were compared with SUVmax value and short-axis diameter of a lymph node as noted on EBUS.

Results: Out of 74 sampled nodes, 49 (66.2%) were benign and 25 (33.8%) were malignant. The SUVmax range of benign nodes was 2.8-13 as compared to 3-18 of malignant nodes. The size range of malignant and benign nodes were 8-35 mm and 8-30 mm, respectively. The mean size of abnormal nodes (metastatic + granulomatous) was 17.5 (8-35 mm) and the mean SUVmax was 9.1 (3.4-18), and it was a statistically significant difference when compared to reactive (normal) nodes. At SUVmax cut-off 7.5, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), negative predictive value (NPV) were 78.5%, 81.2%, 84.6%, and 74.2%, respectively for detecting abnormal nodes. At 13 mm size cut-off, sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV were 75.5%, 65%, 75%, and 72%, respectively, for detecting abnormal nodes.

Conclusion: The majority of mediastinal-hilar nodes with increased metabolic activity are benign in nature. Size and SUVmax are poor predictors of metastasis in tuberculosis endemic region. There should be a restrictive attitude toward invasive diagnostic testing for mediastinal-hilar nodes in extrathoracic malignancies.

Keywords: 18FDG PET-CT scan; SUVmax; endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration; extrathoracic malignancy; mediastinal-hilar node; short-axis diameter.