PET and CT features differentiating infectious/inflammatory from malignant mediastinal lymphadenopathy: A correlated study with endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration.


To explore the advantages of differentiating inflammatory from malignant thoracic lymph nodes by integrating their features on positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT).

Following institutional review board approval, PET and CT parameters of thoracic lymph nodes were examined based on their pathologic diagnosis via endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration. The standardized uptake value (SUV) of PET and CT findings of the long- and short-axis diameters, axial short to long diameter ratios (S/L), and measured nodal CT values of the lymph nodes were compared and analyzed statistically.

A total of 124 lymph nodes from 70 patients were studied. The inflammatory and malignant lymph nodes differed significantly in their SUV (P = 0.008), short-axis diameters (SAD, p < 0.001), long-axis diameters (LAD, p = 0.002) and S/L ratios (p < 0.001). They did not differ significantly in non-contrast enhanced CT values (p = 0.304). The sensitivities, specificities, positive predictive values, negative predictive values, diagnostic accuracies and diagnostic odds ratios (DOR) were: 1) elevated SUV alone - 95.31% (61/64), 20% (12/60), 55.96% (61/109), 80% (12/15), 58.87% (73/124), and 5; 2) combined SUV + SAD - 89.06%, 53.33%, 67.06%, 82.05%, 71.77%, and 9.31; 3) combined SUV + S/L ratio - 87.5%, 93.33%, 93.33%, 87.5%, 90.32%, and 98, respectively.

Increased SUV, SAD, LAD, and S/L ratio are accurate PET/CT parameters to characterize inflammatory or malignant lymph nodes. SUV has high sensitivity but low specificity, low positive and negative predictive values, and low DOR. The SUV + SAD and SUV + S/L ratios have higher specificity, positive and negative predictive values, diagnostic accuracy and DOR.

  • Auster M
  • Gong G
  • Li QK
  • Wang H
PubMed ID
Appears In
Radiol Infect Dis, 2018, 5 (1)