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Radiother Oncol. 2012 Mar;102(3):335-42. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2011.12.018. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

Radiographic changes after lung stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR)--can we distinguish recurrence from fibrosis? A systematic review of the literature.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, London Health Sciences Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.



Changes in lung density on computed tomography (CT) are common after stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) and can confound the early detection of recurrence. We performed a systematic review to describe post-SABR findings on computed tomography (CT) and positron-emission tomography (PET), identify imaging characteristics that predict recurrence and propose a follow-up imaging algorithm.


A systematic review was conducted of studies providing detailed radiologic descriptions of anatomic and metabolic lung changes after SABR. Our search returned 824 studies; 26 met our inclusion criteria. Data are presented according to PRISMA guidelines.


Acute changes post-SABR predominantly appear as consolidation or ground glass opacities. Late changes often demonstrate a modified conventional pattern of fibrosis, evolving beyond 2years after treatment. Several CT features, including an enlarging opacity, correlate with recurrence. Although PET SUVmax may rise immediately post-SABR, an SUVmax⩾5 carries a high predictive value of recurrence.


CT density changes are common post-SABR. The available evidence suggests that recurrent disease should be suspected if high-risk CT changes are seen with SUVmax⩾5 on PET. Further studies are needed to validate the predictive values of such metrics, and for advanced analysis of CT changes to allow early detection of potentially curable local recurrence.

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