Poor liver tumor visibility after microwave ablation (MWA) limits direct tumor ablation margin assessments using contrast-enhanced CT or ultrasound (US). Positron emission tomography (PET) or PET/CT may offer improved intraprocedural assessment of liver tumor ablation margins versus current imaging techniques, as 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG)-avid tumors remain visible on PET immediately following ablation. The purpose of this study was to assess intraprocedural 18F-FDG PET scans before and immediately after PET/CT-guided MWA for visualization and quantification of metabolic liver tumor tissue contraction resulting from MWA.
This retrospective study, conducted at a large academic medical center after Institutional Review Board approval, included 36 patients (20 men; mean age 63 [range 37–85]) who underwent PET/CT-guided MWA of 42 18F-FDG-avid liver tumors from May 2013 to March 2018. Tumor metabolic diameters (short/long axes) were measured for each tumor on pre- and post-ablation PET images. Tumor metabolic volumes were calculated using tumor diameter measurements and compared with automated volumes using an SUV threshold algorithm. A two-tailed paired t test was used for the analyses.
Comparing intraprocedural pre- and post-ablation PET images, mean metabolic tumor short- and long-axis diameters decreased from 21.4 to 14.9 mm [− 29%, p < 0.001, standard deviation (SD) 18%] and from 24.0 to 18.0 mm (− 24%, p < 0.001, SD 16%), respectively. The mean calculated tumor metabolic volume decreased from 10.5 to 4.6 mm3 (− 55%, p < 0.001, SD 26%). The mean automated tumor metabolic volume decreased from 10.6 to 5.8 mm3 (− 45%, p < 0.001, SD 30%).
Intraprocedural PET images of 18F-FDG-avid liver tumors allow visualization and quantification of MWA-induced metabolic tumor tissue contraction during 18F-FDG PET/CT-guided procedures. The ability to visualize contracted tumor immediately post-MWA may facilitate emerging intraprocedural PET and PET/CT imaging techniques that address a clinical gap in directly assessing the ablation margin.
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The datasets generated and analyzed during the current study are not publicly available as the data are contained within our hospital electronic medical record but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.