Rationale and Objectives: This study aimed to elucidate the diagnostic accuracy of F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) for nodal involvement in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), and to reveal clinically useful factors to distinguish between true-positive (TP) and false-positive (FP) nodes. Materials and Methods: Thirty-eight patients with primary OSCC who underwent neck dissection were assessed. The diagnostic accuracy of F-18 FDG PET/CT was evaluated, and then compared with that of CT/ultrasonography (US). Furthermore, the association of the maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) and nodal size with the histopathologic findings was examined. Results: Sensitivity and specificity using F-18 FDG PET/CT were 77.1% and 97.3%, and those using CT/US were 72.9% and 98.9%, respectively. The SUVmax of TP nodes was significantly higher than that of FP nodes. Nodes with SUVmax >4.5 were pathologically confirmed as metastasis. Nodes with SUVmax ≤4.5 were further discriminated between TP and FP nodes by using the long axis diameters or the ratios of long to short axis diameter as clinical parameters. Positive correlation between the SUVmax and the short-axis diameter was found in TP nodes. The AUC obtained from the ROC curves of the SUVmax alone (AUC, 0.804) was improved by combination with the long-axis diameter (AUC, 0.867) or the short-axis diameter (AUC, 0.846), although no significant difference was found. Conclusions: These results indicated that F-18 FDG PET/CT was potentially useful in diagnosing preoperative nodal state. Furthermore, combined assessment of SUVmax with nodal size could be significant in the identification of metastatic lymph nodes in OSCC patients.
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