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J Comput Assist Tomogr. 2008 Sep-Oct;32(5):738-44. doi: 10.1097/RCT.0b013e3181591d33.

Liver lesion detection and characterization in patients with colorectal cancer: a comparison of low radiation dose non-enhanced PET/CT, contrast-enhanced PET/CT, and liver MRI.

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Division of Abdominal and Interventional Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



To compare low-radiation dose non-enhanced fluorine 18 fluorodeoxyglucose (F-18 FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) (NE-PET/CT), contrast-enhanced fluorine 18 fluorodeoxyglucose PET/CT (CE-PET/CT), and gadolinium-enhanced liver magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the detection and characterization of liver lesions in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC).


In this retrospective review of imaging database of CRC patients with suspected liver metastases, 33 patients (22 men, 11 women; mean age, 63 years) evaluated with low-radiation dose NE-PET/CT, CE-PET/CT, and liver MRI were studied. The final diagnosis was established either by pathological examination or follow-up imaging over a period of at least 6 months for lesion stability or growth. The liver lesions were characterized on an ordinal scale of 0 to 6 (0 = absent, 1 = definitely benign, and 6 = definitely malignant). Receiver operating characteristic analysis was performed to compare performance of the 3 imaging methods.


A total of 110 lesions were present on follow-up. The detection rate on low-radiation dose NE-PET/CT, CE-PET/CT, and MRI was 73.6%, 90.9%, and 95.4%, respectively. Magnetic resonance imaging (P < 0.001) and CE-PET/CT (P < 0.001) had a higher detection rate than low-radiation dose NE-PET/CT. There was no significant statistical difference in lesion detection between MRI and CE-PET/CT (P = 0.11). The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy for characterization of detected liver lesions on low-radiation dose NE-PET/CT were 67%, 60%, and 66%, respectively; those on CE-PET/CT were 85%, 100%, and 86%, respectively; and those on MRI were 98%, 100%, and 98%, respectively. Comparative receiver operating characteristic analysis showed an area under curve of 0.74 for low-radiation dose NE-PET/CT, 0.86 for CE-PET/CT, and 0.97 for MRI. There were statistically significant differences in the accuracy of MRI, low-radiation dose NE-PET/CT, and CE-PET/CT for lesion characterization.


When performing PET/CT, optimal detection and characterization of liver lesions require the use of a fused contrast-enhanced CT. Magnetic resonance imaging and CE-PET/CT have similar lesion detection rates. Magnetic resonance imaging is the best test for liver lesion characterization in patients with CRC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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