PET/CT and hepatic radiation injury in esophageal cancer patients.

Research paper by Revathy B RB Iyer, Aparna A Balachandran, John F JF Bruzzi, Valen V Johnson, Homer A HA Macapinlac, Reginald F RF Munden

Indexed on: 07 Dec '07Published on: 07 Dec '07Published in: Cancer Imaging


This paper evaluates the imaging appearance of radiation injury in the liver on positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) in patients with distal esophageal cancer who underwent pre-operative chemoradiation therapy. Twenty-six patients with distal esophageal cancer who received chemoradiotherapy before esophagectomy were included. All patients had baseline and follow-up PET/CT. Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake in both left and right lobes of the liver was evaluated. CT findings suggesting radiation damage were documented. Abnormal FDG uptake in the liver was observed in 5 (19%) patients after therapy. These abnormalities were in the left lobe (12%) and right lobe (12%) of the liver. In the irradiated left lobe, FDG uptake increased focally greater than 50% over baseline in two patients (54% and 133%); in one of these patients, biopsy confirmed radiation injury. In the non-irradiated right lobe, standard uptake values (SUV) increased diffusely in two different patients. In one patient, SUV decreased by at least 50% in both the right and left lobes. In the remaining patients, there were no significant changes in FDG uptake. Atrophy and attenuation changes of irradiated liver on CT were found in 15 (58%) patients. In patients receiving chemoradiotherapy, PET/CT may identify metabolic abnormalities in irradiated liver. Such abnormalities should be correlated with other imaging, clinical and laboratory findings to avoid confusion with hepatic metastases.