Diagnostic performance of CT in detection of metastatic cervical lymph nodes in patients with thyroid cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis
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Although ultrasound (US) is a standard modality for the assessment of cervical lymph node metastasis in patients with thyroid cancer, there is an increasing trend in the number of articles describing the use of contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT). The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the diagnostic performance of CT in the diagnosis of metastatic cervical lymph nodes and to identify the parameters responsible for heterogeneity in diagnostic performance.
Ovid-MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were searched up to May 22, 2018, for studies on the diagnostic performance of CT. The pooled sensitivity and specificity of all studies were calculated. In addition, subgroup analysis and meta-regression analysis were performed to evaluate factors responsible for heterogeneity.
Seventeen (6378 patients, 11,590 lymph nodes) studies were included. The pooled sensitivity was 55% (95% CI, 47–63%), and the pooled specificity was 87% (95% CI, 90–95%). Higgins I2 statistic demonstrated substantial heterogeneity in the sensitivity (I2 = 96.3%) and specificity (I2 = 93.8%). In a per-neck level subgroup analysis, the Higgins I2 statistic demonstrated reduced heterogeneity in both sensitivity and specificity. In the meta-regression analysis, variation in the CT protocols, such as contrast amount, scan phase, and reconstruction slice thickness, was a statistically significant factor causing heterogeneity.
CT demonstrated acceptable diagnostic performance in the pre- and postoperative diagnosis of metastatic cervical lymph nodes in patients with thyroid cancer. Variation in the CT protocols was a main factor causing heterogeneity among the included studies.
• The role of contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) needs to be reassessed.
• CT demonstrated acceptable diagnostic performance in the diagnosis of metastatic cervical lymph nodes in patients with thyroid cancer in the meta-analysis.
• Variation in the CT protocols was a main factor causing heterogeneity in the meta-regression analysis.
KeywordsMultislice computed tomography Lymph nodes Meta-analysis Thyroid cancer Papillary thyroid cancer
Contrast-enhanced computed tomography
Hierarchic summary receiver operating characteristic
Papillary thyroid carcinoma
The authors state that this work has not received any funding.
Compliance with ethical standards
The scientific guarantor of this publication is Jung Hwan Baek.
Conflict of interest
The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article.
Statistics and biometry
One of the authors (Chong Hyun Suh) has significant statistical expertise (5 years of experience in a systematic review and meta-analysis).
Written informed consent was not required for this study because of the nature of our study, which was a systemic review and meta-analysis.
Institutional Review Board approval was not required because of the nature of our study, which was a systemic review and meta-analysis.
• performed at one institution
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