DOI: 10.1007/s00259-018-4061-9Pages: 2093-2102

Can integrated 18F-FDG PET/MR replace sentinel lymph node resection in malignant melanoma?

1. Univ Dusseldorf, Medical Faculty, Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology

2. Univ Duisburg-Essen, Medical Faculty, Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology and Neuroradiology

3. Univ Duisburg-Essen, Medical Faculty, Department of Nuclear Medicine

4. University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Department of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology

5. University Duisburg-Essen, West German Cancer Center

6. German Cancer Consortium (DKTK)

Correspondence to:
Benedikt Michael Schaarschmidt




To compare the sensitivity and specificity of 18F-fluordesoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (18F-FDG PET/CT), 18F-FDG PET/magnetic resonance (18F-FDG PET/MR) and 18F-FDG PET/MR including diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) in the detection of sentinel lymph node metastases in patients suffering from malignant melanoma.

Material & Methods

Fifty-two patients with malignant melanoma (female: n = 30, male: n = 22, mean age 50.5 ± 16.0 years, mean tumor thickness 2.28 ± 1.97 mm) who underwent 18F-FDG PET/CT and subsequent PET/MR & DWI for distant metastasis staging were included in this retrospective study. After hybrid imaging, lymphoscintigraphy including single photon emission computed tomography/CT (SPECT/CT) was performed to identify the sentinel lymph node prior to sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB). In a total of 87 sentinel lymph nodes in 64 lymph node basins visible on SPECT/CT, 17 lymph node metastases were detected by histopathology. In separate sessions PET/CT, PET/MR, and PET/MR & DWI were assessed for sentinel lymph node metastases by two independent readers. Discrepant results were resolved in a consensus reading. Sensitivities, specificities, positive predictive values and negative predictive values were calculated with histopathology following SPECT/CT guided SLNB as a reference standard.


Compared with histopathology, lymph nodes were true positive in three cases, true negative in 65 cases, false positive in three cases and false negative in 14 cases in PET/CT. PET/MR was true positive in four cases, true negative in 63 cases, false positive in two cases and false negative in 13 cases. Hence, we observed a sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value of 17.7, 95.6, 50.0 and 82.3% for PET/CT and 23.5, 96.9, 66.7 and 82.3% for PET/MR. In DWI, 56 sentinel lymph node basins could be analyzed. Here, the additional analysis of DWI led to two additional false positive findings, while the number of true positive findings could not be increased.


In conclusion, integrated 18F-FDG PET/MR does not reliably differentiate N-positive from N-negative melanoma patients. Additional DWI does not increase the sensitivity of 18F-FDG PET/MR. Hence, sentinel lymph node biopsy cannot be replaced by 18F-FDG-PE/MR or 18F-FDG-PET/CT.

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  • Accepted: May 27, 2018
  • Online: Jun 6, 2018

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