FDG-PET scan in potentially operable non-small cell lung cancer: do anatometabolic PET-CT fusion images improve the localisation of regional lymph node metastases? The Leuven Lung Cancer Group

Eur J Nucl Med. 1998 Nov;25(11):1495-501. doi: 10.1007/s002590050327.


Exact localisation of thoracic lymph nodes (LNs) on fluorine-18 fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) can be hampered by the paucity of anatomical landmarks. In non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients referred for locoregional LN staging, we prospectively examined to what extent localisation of LNs at PET reading could be improved by visual correlation with computed tomography (CT), or by anatometabolic PET+CT fusion images. Fifty-six patients with potentially operable NSCLC underwent CT, PET and surgical staging. Prospective reading was performed for CT, PET without CT, PET+CT visual correlation and PET+CT fusion. Reading was blinded to surgical pathology data and noted on a standard LN map. Surgical staging was available for 493 LN stations. In the evaluation per individual LN station, CT was accurate in 87%, PET in 91% and visual correlation and fusion in 93%. In the identification of the nodal stage, CT was correct in 28/56 patients (50%), PET in 37/56 (66%), visual correlation in 40/56 (71%), and fusion in 41/56 (73%). It is concluded that in the exact localisation of metastatic thoracic LNs, the accuracy of reading of PET is increased if the PET images can be visually correlated with CT images. PET+CT anatometabolic fusion images add only a marginal benefit compared with visual correlation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / secondary
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18