PET, CT, and MRI with Combidex for mediastinal staging in non-small cell lung carcinoma

Kemp H. Kernstine, William Stanford, Brian F. Mullan, Nicholas P. Rossi, Brad H. Thompson, David L. Bushnell, Kelley A. McLaughlin, Jeffrey A. Kern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Background. To determine the relative utility of positron emission tomography (PET), computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging with Combidex (MRI-C) in the non-invasive staging of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) mediastinal lymph nodes (MLN), we compared the three tests' individual performance with surgical mediastinal sampling. In contrast to prior studies, cytology was not used. Methods. The MLN were evaluated using PET and CT in 64 NSCLC patients. MRI-C was performed in 9 of these patients. MLN with a PET standard uptake value greater than or equal to 2.5, or greater than 1 cm in the short axis by CT or lack of MRI-C signal change were considered positive for metastatic disease. All MLN were sampled and subjected to standard pathologic analysis. PET, CT, and MRI-C scans were interpreted blinded to the histopathological results. Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy for each scan type to appropriately stage MLN was determined using pathologic results as the standard. Results. Thirty patients had stage I disease, 8 stage II, 9 stage IIIA, 7 stage IIIB, and 10 stage IV. Two- hundred-and-thirty MLN were sampled. Sixteen patients had metastatic mediastinal disease. Compared to the pathological results, PET, CT, and MRI-C had a sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of 70%, 86%, 84%; 65%, 79%, 76%; 86%, 82%, and 83%, respectively. PET and MRI-C were statistically more accurate than CT (p < 0.001). In cases where PET and CT did not identify MLN involvement with NSCLC, 8% (2/25) were pathologically positive. Conclusions. PET and MRI-C are statistically more accurate than CT. However, the differences are small and may not be clinically relevant. No technique was sensitive or specific enough to change the current recommendation to perform mediastinoscopy for MLN staging in NSCLC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1022-1028
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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