The Additional Value of Ultrafast DCE-MRI to DWI-MRI and 18F-FDG-PET to Detect Occult Primary Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Roland M. Martens, Ruud van Der Stappen, Thomas Koopman, Daniel P. Noij, Emile F. Comans, Gerben J.C. Zwezerijnen, Marije R. Vergeer, C. Rene Leemans, Remco de Bree, Ronald Boellaard, Jonas A. Castelijns, Pim de Graaf

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To evaluate diagnostic accuracy of qualitative analysis and interobserver agreement of single ultrafast-DCE, DWI or 18F-FDG-PET and the combination of modalities for the detection of unknown primary tumor (UPT) in patients presenting with cervical lymph node metastasis from squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Between 2014-2019, patients with histologically proven cervical lymph node metastasis of UPT SCC were prospectively included and underwent DWI, ultrafast-DCE, and 18F-FDG-PET/CT. Qualitative assessment was performed by two observers per modality. Interobserver agreement was calculated using the proportion specific agreement. Diagnostic accuracy of combined use of DWI, ultrafast-DCE and 18F-FDG-PET/CT was assessed. Twenty-nine patients were included (20 males. [68%], median age 60 years). Nine (31%) primary tumors remained occult. Ultrafast-DCE added reader confidence for suspicious locations (one additional true positive (5%), 2 decisive true malignant (10%). The per-location analysis showed highest specific positive agreement for ultrafast-DCE (77.6%). The per-location rating showed highest sensitivity (95%, 95%CI = 75.1-99.9, YI = 0.814) when either one of all modalities was scored positive, and 97.4% (95%CI = 93.5-99.3, YI = 0.774) specificity when co-detected on all. The per-patient analysis showed highest sensitivity (100%) for 18F-FDG-PET/CT (YI = 0.222) and either DWI or PET (YI = 0.111). Despite highest trends, no significant differences were found. The per-patient analysis showed highest specific positive agreement when co-detected on all modalities (55.6%, 95%CI = 21.2-86.3, YI = 0.456). Ultrafast-DCE showed potential to improve detection of unknown primary tumors in addition to DWI and 18F-FDG-PET/CT in patients with cervical squamous cell carcinoma lymph node metastasis. The combined use of ultrafast-DCE, DWI and 18F-FDG-PET/CT yielded highest sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2826
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • DWI
  • MRI
  • PET
  • head and neck neoplasms
  • ultrafast DCE
  • unknown primary

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