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03-11-2016 | Endocrine cancers | Article

Impact of combined FDG-PET/CT and MRI on the detection of local recurrence and nodal metastases in thyroid cancer

Cancer Imaging

Authors: Johann-Martin Hempel, Roman Kloeckner, Sandra Krick, Daniel Pinto dos Santos, Simin Schadmand-Fischer, Patrick Boeßert, Sotirios Bisdas, Matthias M. Weber, Christian Fottner, Thomas J. Musholt, Mathias Schreckenberger, Matthias Miederer

Publisher: BioMed Central



Suspected recurrence of thyroid carcinoma is a diagnostic challenge when findings of both a radio iodine whole body scan and ultrasound are negative. PET/CT and MRI have shown to be feasible for detection of recurrent disease. However, the added value of a consensus reading by the radiologist and the nuclear medicine physician, which has been deemed to be helpful in clinical routines, has not been investigated. This study aimed to investigate the impact of combined FDG-PET/ldCT and MRI on detection of locally recurrent TC and nodal metastases in high-risk patients with special focus on the value of the multidisciplinary consensus reading.

Materials and methods

Forty-six patients with suspected locally recurrent thyroid cancer or nodal metastases after thyroidectomy and radio-iodine therapy were retrospectively selected for analysis. Inclusion criteria comprised elevated thyroglobulin blood levels, a negative ultrasound, negative iodine whole body scan, as well as combined FDG-PET/ldCT and MRI examinations.
Neck compartments in FDG-PET/ldCT and MRI examinations were independently analyzed by two blinded observers for local recurrence and nodal metastases of thyroid cancer. Consecutively, the scans were read in consensus. To explore a possible synergistic effect, FDG-PET/ldCT and MRI results were combined. Histopathology or long-term follow-up served as a gold standard.
For method comparison, sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and diagnostic accuracy were calculated.


FDG-PET/ldCT was substantially more sensitive and more specific than MRI in detection of both local recurrence and nodal metastases. Inter-observer agreement was substantial both for local recurrence (κ = 0.71) and nodal metastasis (κ = 0.63) detection in FDG-PET/ldCT. For MRI, inter-observer agreement was substantial for local recurrence (κ = 0.69) and moderate for nodal metastasis (κ = 0.55) detection. In contrast, FDG-PET/ldCT and MRI showed only slight agreement (κ = 0.21). However, both imaging modalities identified different true positive results. Thus, the combination created a synergistic effect. The multidisciplinary consensus reading further increased sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic accuracy.


FDG-PET/ldCT and MRI are complementary imaging modalities and should be combined to improve detection of local recurrence and nodal metastases of thyroid cancer in high-risk patients. The multidisciplinary consensus reading is a key element in the diagnostic approach.

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