PURPOSE: Positron emission tomography (PET)/MRI combines the functional ability of PET and the high soft tissue contrast of MRI. The aim of this study was to assess contrast-enhanced (ce)PET/MRI compared to cePET/CT in patients with suspected recurrence of head and neck cancer (HNC).
METHODS: Eighty-seven patients underwent sequential cePET/CT and cePET/MRI using a trimodality PET/CT-MRI set-up. Diagnostic accuracy for the detection of recurrent HNC was evaluated using cePET/CT and cePET/MRI. Furthermore, image quality, presence of unclear (18)F-fluorodeoxy-D-glucose (FDG) findings of uncertain significance and the diagnostic advantages of use of gadolinium contrast enhancement were analysed.
RESULTS: cePET/MRI showed no statistically significant difference in diagnostic accuracy compared to cePET/CT (91.5 vs 90.6%). Artefacts' grade was similar in both methods, but their location was different. cePET/CT artefacts were primarily located in the suprahyoid area, while on cePET/MRI, artefacts were more equally distributed among the supra and infrahyoid neck regions. cePET/MRI and cePET/CT showed 34 unclear FDG findings; of those 11 could be solved by cePET/MRI and 5 by cePET/CT. The use of gadolinium in PET/MRI did not yield higher diagnostic accuracy, but helped to better define tumour margins in 6.9% of patients.
CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that cePET/MRI may be superior compared to cePET/CT to specify unclear FDG uptake related to possible tumour recurrence in follow-up of patients after HNC. It seems to be the modality of choice for the evaluation of the oropharynx and the oral cavity because of a higher incidence of artefacts in cePET/CT in this area mainly due to dental implants. However, overall there is no statistically significant difference.