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Grawe, Freba; Rosenberger, Natalie; Ingenerf, Maria; Beyer, Leonie; Eschbach, Ralf; Todica, Andrei; Seidensticker, Ricarda; Schmid-Tannwald, Christine; Cyran, Clemens C.; Ricke, Jens; Bartenstein, Peter; Auernhammer, Christoph. J.; Ruebenthaler, Johannes; Fabritius, Matthias P. (2023): Diagnostic performance of PET/CT in the detection of liver metastases in well-differentiated NETs. Cancer Imaging, 23 (1). ISSN 1470-7330

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The aim of this retrospective study was to compare the diagnostic accuracy of somatostatin receptor (SSR)-PET/CT to liver MRI as reference standard in the evaluation of hepatic involvement in neuroendocrine tumors (NET).

An institutional database was screened for “SSR” imaging studies between 2006 and 2021. 1000 NET Patients (grade 1/2) with 2383 SSR-PET/CT studies and matching liver MRI in an interval of +3 months were identified. Medical reports of SSR-PET/CT and MRI were retrospectively evaluated regarding hepatic involvement and either confirmed by both or observed in MRI but not in SSR-PET/CT (false-negative) or in SSR-PET but not in MRI (false-positive).

Metastatic hepatic involvement was reported in 1650 (69.2%) of the total 2383 SSR-PET/CT imaging studies, whereas MRI detected hepatic involvement in 1685 (70.7%) cases. There were 51 (2.1%) false-negative and 16 (0.7%) false-positive cases. In case of discrepant reports, MRI and PET/CT were reviewed side by side for consensus reading. SSR-PET/CT demonstrated a sensitivity of 97.0% (95%CI: 96.0%, 97.7%), a specificity of 97.7% (95%CI: 96.3%, 98.7%), a PPV of 99.0% (95%CI: 98.4%, 99.4%) and NPV of 93.0% (95%CI: 91.0, 94.8%) in identifying hepatic involvement. The most frequent reason for false-negative results was the small size of lesions with the majority < 0.6 cm.

This study confirms the high diagnostic accuracy of SSR-PET/CT in the detection of hepatic involvement in NET patients based on a patient-based analysis of metastatic hepatic involvement with a high sensitivity and specificity using liver MRI imaging as reference standard. However, one should be aware of possible pitfalls when a single imaging method is used in evaluating neuroendocrine liver metastases in patients.

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