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F-18-FDG-avid lymph node metastasis along preferential lymphatic drainage pathways from the tumor-bearing lung lobe on F-18-FDG PET/CT in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer

Abstract

Objective

F-18-FDG-avid lymph node (LN) metastasis may preferentially occur along the lymphatic drainage pathway (LDP) from the tumor-bearing lobe in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) on FDG PET/CT. This study evaluated whether the identification of metastatic LNs according to LDP-based visual image interpretation can improve LN staging on FDG PET/CT in these patients.

Methods

FDG PET/CT study was performed in 265 patients with NSCLC. The presence and LN station of metastatic LNs were determined by surgery or the clinical course. In the LDP-based interpretation, FDG-avid LNs, which were located along the preferential LDP from each tumor-bearing lobe and visually more intense in FDG uptake compared with the remaining LNs straying away from the preferential LDP, were diagnosed as metastatic. The result was compared with the quantitative method using a cutoff value of 2.5 for the maximum standardized uptake value.

Results

Of the total 1031 mediastinal and hilar LN stations with FDG-avid LNs in 265 patients, 179 stations in 66 patients were metastatic and the remaining 852 were benign. All the metastatic LN stations except for 2 stations showing skip metastasis were located along the main preferential LDP or another preferential LDP via a direct anatomic pathway from each tumor-bearing lung lobe. The specificity, accuracy, and PPV for identifying metastatic LN stations by LDP-based interpretation were 97.9, 95.7 and 89.5 %, respectively, which were significantly greater compared with those of 92.7, 90.8 and 70.3 % by the SUV-based method (P < 0.001).

Conclusions

The present study shows that FDG-avid LN metastasis preferentially occurs along the LDP from the tumor-bearing lobe in NSCLC patients. LDP-based visual image interpretation on FDG PET/CT can improve LN staging in these patients.

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Correspondence to Kazuyoshi Suga.

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Shigemoto, Y., Suga, K. & Matsunaga, N. F-18-FDG-avid lymph node metastasis along preferential lymphatic drainage pathways from the tumor-bearing lung lobe on F-18-FDG PET/CT in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. Ann Nucl Med 30, 287–297 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12149-016-1063-1

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Keywords

  • F-18-FDG-PET/CT
  • Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
  • Lymph node
  • Metastasis
  • Lymphatic drainage pathways