Purpose: To compare the usefulness of computed tomography (CT) and gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in the detection of neoplastic invasion of laryngeal cartilage.
Materials and methods: In a prospective study, 53 patients with carcinoma of the larynx or piriform sinus underwent CT and MR imaging before total or partial laryngectomy. The findings at imaging and pathologic examination were compared.
Results: At histologic examination, neoplastic invasion of cartilage was present in 34 patients and absent in 19. MR imaging was more sensitive than CT (89% vs 66%; P = .001). Inflammatory changes and fibrosis, however, were indistinguishable from tumor on MR images, resulting in overestimation of neoplastic invasion in a large number of patients. Therefore, MR imaging was less specific than CT (84% vs 94%; P = .004).
Conclusion: MR imaging is more sensitive than CT in detecting neoplastic invasion of cartilage, but the inability to differentiate between nonneoplastic inflammatory changes and tumor with MR imaging leads to overestimation of neoplastic invasion.