, Volume 51, Issue 10, pp 677–686 | Cite as

18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose-PET/CT to evaluate tumor, nodal disease, and gross tumor volume of oropharyngeal and oral cavity cancer: comparison with MR imaging and validation with surgical specimen

  • Oliver Seitz
  • Nicole Chambron-Pinho
  • Markus Middendorp
  • Rober Sader
  • Martin Mack
  • Thomas J. Vogl
  • Sotirios Bisdas
Head and Neck Radiology



The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the impact of adding combined 18F-PET/CT to MRI for T and N staging of the oral and oropharyngeal cancer and calculation of the gross tumor volume (GTV) having histopathology as reference standard.


PET/CT and MRI were performed in 66 patients with suspected oral and oropharyngeal cancer (41 primary tumors/25 recurrent tumors) and nodal disease (114 nodes). Statistical analysis included the McNemar test, sensitivity, specificity for the diagnostic modalities as well as regression analysis, and Bland–Altman graphs for calculated tumor volumes.


There was no statistically significant difference between the two modalities compared to pathological findings regarding detection of disease (P ≥ 0.72). The sensitivity/specificity for tumor detection were 100/80% and 96.72/60% for MRI and PET/CT, respectively. The sensitivity/specificity for nodal metastases were 88.46/75% and 83.81/73.91% for MRI and PET/CT, respectively. In 18% of cases, the MRI-based T staging resulted in an overestimation of the pathologic tumor stage. The corresponding rate for PET/CT was 22%. Regarding the treated necks, both modalities showed 100% sensitivity for detection of the recurrent lesions. In necks with histologically N0 staging, MRI and PET/CT gave 22% and 26% false positive findings, respectively. The mean tumor volume in the pathologic specimen was 16.6 ± 18.6 ml, the mean volume derived by the MR imaging was 17.6 ± 19.1 ml while the estimated by PET/CT volume was 18.8 ± 18.1 ml (P ≤ 0.007 between the three methods). The Bland–Altman analysis showed a better agreement between PET/CT and MRI.


The diagnostic performance of FDG-PET/CT in the local staging of oral cancer is not superior to MRI.


PET/CT MRI Oral cancer Oropharynx Gross tumor volume 



We would like to thank Dr. Marc Harth for his help in collecting the MRI and PET-CT patient data.

Conflict of interest statement

We declare that we have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver Seitz
    • 1
  • Nicole Chambron-Pinho
    • 1
  • Markus Middendorp
    • 2
  • Rober Sader
    • 1
  • Martin Mack
    • 3
  • Thomas J. Vogl
    • 3
  • Sotirios Bisdas
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Oromaxillofacial SurgeryJW Goethe UniversityFrankfurtGermany
  2. 2.Department of Nuclear MedicineJW Goethe UniversityFrankfurtGermany
  3. 3.Department of RadiologyJW Goethe UniversityFrankfurtGermany
  4. 4.Department of NeuroradiologyEberhard Karls UniversityTübingenGermany

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