Background: Conventional CT is insensitive for detection of metastatic involvement of celiac lymph nodes in esophageal cancer. Helical CT has theoretical advantages over "slice" CT in this regard, but its performance has not yet been prospectively studied. Methods: Consecutive patients with untreated esophageal cancer were recruited after obtaining informed consent. Helical CT was performed on all patients and TNM staging was performed by a single radiologist. Subsequently, all patients underwent esophageal radial and, as needed, curvilinear array EUS with fine needle aspiration (FNA), for evaluation of celiac lymph nodes and TNM staging. Test performance characteristics with 95% confidence intervals were calculated, assuming EUS with FNA as the reference standard. Results: Forty-eight patients were recruited, of whom 37 (77%) were men. The mean (SD) age was 63.6 (10) years. Excluding 5 patients in whom a confirmatory FNA was not available (n = 43), helical CT identified celiac lymph nodes in 12 (28%) patients. The reference standard of EUS with FNA identified 15 (35%) patients with metastatic celiac lymph nodes, giving a sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values for helical CT of 53% (95% CI [28%, 79%]), 86% (95% CI [73%, 99%]), 67% (95% CI [40%, 93%]), and 77% (95% CI [63%, 92%]), respectively, for assessing celiac lymph nodal involvement. The sensitivity and specificity of helical CT in detecting T4 disease were 25% (95% CI [3.8%, 46%]) and 94% (95% CI [85%, 100%]), respectively. There were 12 patients (25%; 95% CI [13%, 37%]) who were felt to have resectable disease by helical CT but had either metastatic involvement of celiac lymph nodes or T4 disease by EUS/FNA. Conclusions: Despite technological advances, helical CT still appears unreliable, mainly because of insensitivity, for the identification of inoperable T4 or metastatic involvement of celiac lymph node disease in esophageal cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging