Comparative diagnostic value of 18F-fluoride PET-CT versus MRI for skull-base bone invasion in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

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This study compared the diagnostic value of 18F-fluoride PET-computed tomography (PET-CT) and MRI in skull-base bone erosion in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) patients.


A total of 93 patients with biopsy-confirmed NPC were enrolled, including 68 men and 25 women between 23 and 74 years of age. All patients were evaluated by both 18F-fluoride PET-CT and MRI, and the interval between the two imaging examinations was less than 20 days. The patients received no treatment either before or between scans. The studies were interpreted by two nuclear medicine physicians or two radiologists with more than 10 years of professional experience who were blinded to both the diagnosis and the results of the other imaging studies. The reference standard was skull-base bone erosion at a 20-week follow-up imaging study.


On the basis of the results of the follow-up imaging studies, 52 patients showed skull-base bone erosion. The numbers of true positives, false positives, true negatives, and false negatives with 18F-fluoride PET-CT were 49, 4, 37, and 3, respectively. The numbers of true positives, false positives, true negatives, and false negatives with MRI were 46, 5, 36, and 6, respectively. The sensitivity, specificity, and crude accuracy of 18F-fluoride PET-CT were 94.23, 90.24, and 92.47%, respectively; for MRI, these values were 88.46, 87.80, and 88.17%. Of the 52 patients, 43 showed positive findings both on 18F-fluoride PET-CT and on MRI. Within the patient cohort, 18F-fluoride PET-CT and MRI detected 178 and 135 bone lesions, respectively.


Both 18F-fluoride PET-CT and MRI have high sensitivity, specificity, and crude accuracy for detecting skull-base bone invasion in patients with NPC. 18F-fluoride PET-CT detected more lesions than did MRI in the skull-base bone. This suggests that 18F-fluoride PET-CT has a certain advantage in evaluating the skull-base bone of NPC patients. Combining the two methods could improve the diagnostic accuracy of skull-base bone invasion for NPC.

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