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Improvement in the detection of locoregional recurrence in head and neck malignancies: F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose–positron emission tomography/computed tomography compared to high-resolution contrast-enhanced computed tomography and endoscopic examination


  • The authors have no funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.



To compare the diagnostic efficacy of positron emission tomography (PET) with F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG-PET)/computed tomography (CT) to that of contrast-enhanced high-resolution CT (HRCT) and assess the value of a combinatorial approach in detection of recurrent squamous cell cancer of the head and neck (HNC) and to assess the efficacy of FDG-PET/CT with and without HRCT in comparison to standard-of-care follow-up—physical examination (PE) and endoscopy (E)—in determination of locally recurrent HNC.

Study Design

Retrospective study.


A total of 103 patients with HNC underwent FDG-PET/CT and neck HRCT. There were two groups of patients: Group A had an FDG-PET study acquired with low-dose CT, and group B had an FDG-PET study acquired with HRCT. The PET data obtained with or without HRCT were compared on a lesion and patient basis with the results of the PE/E.


On a lesion basis, both groups combined had higher sensitivity and negative predictive value (NPV) than the HRCT. Specificity and positive predictive value (PPV) for group B were higher than for group A. On a patient basis, both groups combined had a higher sensitivity and NPV than PE/E, respectively, although specificity of PE/E was higher than that of either group. PET data obtained with either protocol directly influenced treatment.


HRCT increases the specificity and PPV of PET/CT when acquired simultaneously with PET. FDG-PET/CT acquired with either LDCT or HRCT has higher accuracy than HRCT alone and increases the sensitivity and NPV of PE/E.

Level of Evidence

4 Laryngoscope, 123:2664–2669, 2013