Are Gadolinium-Enhanced MR Sequences Needed in Simultaneous (18)F-FDG-PET/MRI for Tumor Delineation in Head and Neck Cancer?

Head and Neck Cancer

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2020 Sep 24. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A6764. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: PET/MRI with 18F-FDG has demonstrated the advantages of simultaneous PET and MR imaging in head and neck cancer imaging, MRI allowing excellent soft-tissue contrast, while PET provides metabolic information. The aim of this study was to evaluate the added value of gadolinium contrast-enhanced sequences in the tumor delineation of head and neck cancers on 18F-FDG-PET/MR imaging.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Consecutive patients who underwent simultaneous head and neck 18F-FDG-PET/MR imaging staging or restaging followed by surgery were retrospectively included. Local tumor invasion and lymph node extension were assessed in 45 head and neck anatomic regions using 18F-FDG-PET/MR imaging by 2 rater groups (each one including a radiologist and a nuclear medicine physician). Two reading sessions were performed, one without contrast-enhanced sequences (using only T1WI, T2WI, and PET images) and a second with additional T1WI postcontrast sequences. The results were compared with the detailed histopathologic analysis, used as reference standard. The κ concordance coefficient between the reading sessions and sensitivity and specificity for each region were calculated.

RESULTS: Thirty patients were included. There was excellent agreement between the contrast-free and postgadolinium reading sessions in delineating precise tumor extension in the 45 anatomic regions studied (Cohen κ = 0.96, 95% CI = [0.94-0.97], P < .001). The diagnostic accuracy did not differ between contrast-free and postgadolinium reading sessions, being 0.97 for both groups and both reading sessions. For the 2 rater groups, there was good sensitivity for both contrast-free (0.83 and 0.85) and postgadolinium reading sessions (0.88 and 0.90, respectively). Moreover, there was excellent specificity (0.98) for both groups and reading sessions.

CONCLUSIONS: Gadolinium chelate contrast administration showed no added value for accurate characterization of head and neck primary tumor extension and could possibly be avoided in the PET/MR imaging head and neck workflow.