High energy probe for detecting lymph node metastases with 18F-FDG in patients with head and neck cancer

Birgit Meller*, K. Sommer, J. Gerl, K. Von Hof, A. Surowiec, E. Richter, B. Wollenberg, M. Baehre

*Corresponding author for this work
30 Citations (Scopus)


Aim of this study was to validate a newly developed high energy probe (positron emission probe, PEP) optimised for localising PET tracers in vivo. Patients and methods: Physical investigations included determination of full width at half maximum (FWHM) values at a distance of 1 cm and angular resolution using different point sources. Values obtained with the new probe were compared to those of a conventional gamma probe (CGP). Additionally, PET studies were performed in 36 patients (6 women, 30 men) with proven head and neck cancer and suspected lymph node metastases (Axis, Marconi/Philips) after administering 250-320 MBq 18F-FDG. Subsequent to PET investigations 18F-FDG uptake in cervical regions was measured using the PEP. PEP investigations were carried out bilaterally in 5 lymph node (LN) levels (Robbins' classification of the neck). Results of probe studies were correlated with visual and semiquantitative PET evaluations, US and historical findings. Results: FWHM of the new probe was 7 mm (CGP 22 mm) at 662 keV ( 137Cs) and angular resolution resulted in 8° (CGP 60°). In 29 out of 36 patients LN metastases were suspected due to ultrasound investigations. After neck dissection, histology confirmed LN metastases in 21 patients. Sensitivity (sens.) of US amounted to 95% and specificity to 40%. In 18/21 patients LN metastases were detected by PET (sens. 86%). PET scans failed to diagnose the LN status correctly in 6/36 patients (accuracy 83%). Employing the PEP probe in 20/21 patients LN metastases were identified (sens. 95%), and LN status was determined accurately in 29/36 patients (accuracy 81%). Tumour/background ratios of PEP measurement and results of semi-quantitative PET analyses were comparable. Conclusions: PEP measurement is a promising method for preoperative planning of the extent of neck dissection in patients with head and neck cancer and further for radioguided localising PET tracer accumulation during surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)153-159
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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