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J Thorac Imaging. 1999 Oct;14(4):235-46.

Radiologic staging of lung cancer.

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Department of Radiology, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor 48109-0030, USA.


Preoperative tumor staging in patients with known or suspected non-small cell lung cancer is generally performed using contrast enhanced chest computed tomography (CT) (including the adrenal glands). Abdominal CT is generally unnecessary, given the low frequency of isolated liver metastases. The role of MRI is limited, and it is used mainly as a problem solving tool in certain specific situations. A CT showing no mediastinal lymph node enlargement usually oviates preoperative mediastinal lymph node sampling, with certain exceptions. If enlarged mediastinal lymph nodes are demonstrated at CT, then CT may be used to direct preoperative lymph node sampling via transbronchoscopic Wang needle biopsy, mediastinoscopy, mediastinotomy, or video assisted thoracoscopy.

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