Positron emission tomography to stage suspected metastatic colorectal carcinoma to the liver

João V. Vitola, Dominique Delbeke, Martin P. Sandler, Michelle G. Campbell, Thomas A. Powers, J. Kelly Wright, William C. Chapman, C. Wright Pinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

218 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Accurate detection of recurrent colorectal carcinoma remains s clinical challenge. Positron emission tomography (PET) using 18F- fluorodeoxyglucose (18FDG) is an imaging technique that allows direct evaluation of cellular metabolism. 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose PET was compared to computed tomography (CT) and CT portography for staging metastatic colorectal carcinoma. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Twenty-four patients previously treated for colorectal carcinoma who had suspected recurrence to the liver underwent an 18FDG PET scan of the entire body. All patients had either a CT scan of the abdomen (n = 17), a CT portogram (n = 18), or both (n = 11). The final diagnosis was obtained by tissue pathology in 19 patients and clinical follow-up in 5 patients. RESULTS: A total of 60 suspicious lesions were identified. Of the 55 intrahepatic lesions, 39 were malignant and 16 were benign. Of the 5 extra hepatic lesions, 4 were malignant. The 18FDG PET imaging had a higher accuracy (93%) than CT and CT portography (both 76%) in detecting metastatic disease to the liver, and detected unsuspected extrahepatic recurrence in 4 patients. Although the sensitivity of 18FDG PET (90%) was slightly lower then that of CT portography (97%), the specificity was much higher (100% versus 9%), including postsurgical sites. 18FDG PET altered surgical plans in 6 (25%) of 24 patients. CONCLUSIONS: 18FDG PET is extremely useful in staging patients with suspected metastatic colorectal carcinoma to the liver.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-26
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996


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