FDG-PET/CT can rule out malignancy in patients with vocal cord palsy

Anders Thomassen, Anne Lerberg Nielsen, Jeppe Kiilerich Lauridsen, Björn Alexander Blomberg, Søren Hess, Henrik Petersen, Allan Johansen, Jon Thor Asmussen, Jesper Roed Sørensen, Jørgen Johansen, Christian Godballe, Poul Flemming Høilund-Carlsen

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The aim was to investigate the performance of (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose PET/CT to rule out malignancy in patients with confirmed vocal cord palsy (VCP). Between January 2011 and June 2013, we retrospectively included consecutive patients referred to PET/CT with paresis or paralysis of one or both vocal cords. PET/CT results were compared to clinical workup and histopathology. The study comprised 65 patients (32 females) with a mean age of 66±12 years (range 37-89). Eleven patients (17%) had antecedent cancer. Twenty-seven (42%) were diagnosed with cancer during follow-up. The palsy was right-sided in 24 patients, left-sided in 37, and bilateral in 4. Median follow-up was 7 months (interquartile range 4-11 months). Patients without cancer were followed for at least three months. PET/CT suggested a malignancy in 35 patients (27 true positives, 8 false positives) and showed none in 30 (30 true negatives, 0 false negatives). Thus, the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and accuracy were (95% confidence intervals in parenthesis): 100% (88%-100%), 79% (64%-89%), 77% (61%-88%), 100% (89%-100%), and 88% (78%-94%), respectively. Sixteen patients had palliative treatment, while 11 were treated with curative intent, emphasising the severity of VCP and the need for a rapid and accurate diagnostic work-up. In this retrospective survey, biopsy proven malignancy (whether newly diagnosed or relapsed) was the cause of VCP in almost half of patients (42%). PET/CT had a high sensitivity (100%) with a relatively high false positive rate, but was excellent in ruling out malignancy (negative predictive value 100%).

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)193-201
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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