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Radiol Med. 2009 Jun;114(4):571-85. doi: 10.1007/s11547-009-0393-7. Epub 2009 May 14.

Role of PET/CT in the detection of liver metastases from colorectal cancer.

[Article in English, Italian]

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Dipartimento di Diagnostica per Immagini, Imaging Molecolare, Radiologia Interventistica e Radioterapia, Policlinico Universitario Tor Vergata, Viale Oxford 81, 00133, Roma, Italy.



The aim of this study was to compare the diagnostic accuracy of 2-[fluorine-18] fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography (18F-FDG-PET) and computed tomography (CT) with PET/CT in the detection of liver metastases during tumour staging in patients suffering from colorectal carcinoma for the purposes of correct surgical planning and follow-up.


A total of 467 patients underwent a PET/CT scan using an iodinated contrast medium. We compared images obtained by the single PET scan, the single CT scan and by the fusion of the two procedures (PET/CT). The final diagnosis was obtained by histological examination and/or by the follow-up of all patients, including those who did not undergo surgery or biopsy.


The PET scan had 94.05% sensitivity, 91.60% specificity and 93.36% accuracy; the CT scan had 91.07% sensitivity, 95.42% specificity and 92.29% accuracy. The combined procedures (PET/CT) had the following values: sensitivity 97.92%, specificity 97.71% and accuracy 97.86%.


This study indicates that PET/CT is very useful in staging and restaging patients suffering from colorectal cancer. It was particularly useful when recurrences could not be visualised either clinically or by imaging despite increasing tumour markers, as it guaranteed an earlier diagnosis. PET/CT not only provides high diagnostic performance in terms of sensitivity and specificity, enabling modification of patient treatment, but it is also a unique, high-profile procedure that can produce cost savings.

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