Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 41–46 | Cite as

Characteristics of Metastatic Mediastinal Lymph Nodes of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer on Preoperative F-18 FDG PET/CT

  • Ah Young Lee
  • Su Jung Choi
  • Kyung Pyo Jung
  • Ji Sun Park
  • Seok Mo Lee
  • Sang Kyun Bae
Original Article



The aim of this study was to evaluate the characteristics of PET and CT features of mediastinal metastatic lymph nodes on F-18 FDG PET/CT and to determine the diagnostic criteria in nodal staging of non-small cell lung cancer.


One hundred four non-small cell lung cancer patients who had preoperative F-18 FDG PET/CT were included. For quantitative analysis, the maximum SUV of the primary tumor, maximum SUV of the lymph nodes (SUVmax), size of the lymph nodes, and average Hounsfield units (aHUs) and maximum Hounsfield units (mHUs) of the lymph nodes were measured. The SUVmax, SUV ratio of the lymph node to blood pool (LN SUV/blood pool SUV), SUV ratio of the lymph node to primary tumor (LN SUV/primary tumor SUV), size, aHU, and mHU were compared between the benign and malignant lymph nodes.


Among 372 dissected lymph node stations that were pathologically diagnosed after surgery, 49 node stations were malignant and 323 node stations benign. SUVmax, LN SUV/blood pool SUV, and size were significantly different between the malignant and benign lymph node stations (P < 0.0001). However, there was no significant difference in LN SUV/primary tumor SUV (P = 0.18), mHU (P = 0.42), and aHU (P = 0.98). Using receiver-operating characteristic curve analyses, there was no significant difference among these three variables (SUVmax, LN SUV/blood pool SUV, and size). The optimal cutoff values were 2.9 for SUVmax, 1.4 for LN SUV/blood pool SUV, and 5 mm for size. When the cutoff value of SUVmax ≥2.9 and size ≥5 mm were used in combination, the positive predictive value was 44.2 %, and the negative predictive value was 90.9 %. When we evaluated the results based on the histology of the primary tumor, the negative predictive value was 92.3 % in adenocarcinoma (cutoff values of SUVmax ≥2.3 and size ≥5 mm) and 97.2 % in squamous cell carcinoma (cutoff values of SUVmax ≥3.6 and size ≥8 mm), separately.


In the lymph node staging of non-small cell lung cancer, SUVmax, LN SUV/blood pool SUV, and size show statistically significant differences between malignant and benign lymph nodes. These variables can be used to differentiate malignant from benign lymph nodes. The combination of the SUVmax and size of lymph node might have a good negative predictive value.


F-18 FDG PET/CT Non-small cell lung cancer Mediastinal lymph nodes 



This research was supported by the 2012 Collaborative Research Program of Nuclear Medical Sciences through the Dongnam Institute of Radiological and Medical Sciences (DIRAMS) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) and Busan Metropolitan City.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Korean Society of Nuclear Medicine 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ah Young Lee
    • 1
  • Su Jung Choi
    • 1
  • Kyung Pyo Jung
    • 1
  • Ji Sun Park
    • 1
  • Seok Mo Lee
    • 1
  • Sang Kyun Bae
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Nuclear Medicine, Busan Paik HospitalInje University College of MedicineBusanKorea

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