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Ann Surg Oncol. 1998 Jan-Feb;5(1):9-15.

Role of chest CT in patients with negative chest x-rays referred for hepatic colorectal metastases.

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Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.



Hepatic resection is the standard treatment for hepatic colorectal metastases. The lung represents the next most likely site, after the liver, of metastatic disease. Computed tomography (CT) of the chest is more sensitive than is chest x-ray in detecting metastatic lung lesions. However, the usefulness of chest CT in the evaluation of patients before hepatic resection remains uncertain.


One hundred consecutive patients with negative chest x-rays and potentially resectable hepatic colorectal metastases underwent chest CT. Patients with CT findings suggestive of metastatic disease were subjected to thoracotomy or video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) before laparotomy and attempted hepatic resection. The operative findings and clinical course were analyzed.


Eleven of 100 patients had a positive chest CT. Four of these 11 patients had malignant lesions of the lung (three metastatic colorectal cancers and one primary lung cancer). There was no difference in median total hospital stay (8.5 days [range 7 to 13 days] vs. 8.0 days [range 3 to 49 days]), number of perioperative deaths (0 vs. 2 deaths), or long-term outcome between those patients with a positive chest CT undergoing thoracotomy/VATS and those patients with a negative chest CT. Overall, chest CT provided a positive yield of 4% and a positive predictive value of 36% for the detection of malignant lesions of the lung.


Chest CT only minimally improved detection of malignant lesions of the lung over chest x-ray. Thoracotomy/VATS and wedge resection of lung nodules did not adversely affect outcome. The low positive yield and low positive predictive value of chest CT in the setting of a negative chest x-ray places in question the usefulness of routinely performing chest CT as part of the extent-of-disease work-up before hepatic resection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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