Purpose: Head and neck oncologists have not reached consensus regarding the role of contemporary imaging techniques in the evaluation of the clinically negative neck in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The purpose of the present study was to compare the accuracy of ultrasound with guided fine-needle aspiration biopsy (UGFNAB) and computed tomography (CT) in detecting lymph node metastasis in the clinically negative neck.

Methods and Materials: Sixty-four neck sides of patients with HNSCC were examined preoperatively by ultrasound/UGFNAB and CT at one of five participating tertiary care medical centers. The findings were correlated with the results of histopathologic examination of the neck specimen.

Results: Ultrasound with guided fine-needle aspiration biopsy was characterized by a sensitivity of 48%, specificity of 100%, and overall accuracy of 79%. Three cases had nondiagnostic aspirations using UGFNAB and were excluded. CT demonstrated a sensitivity of 54%, specificity of 92%, and overall accuracy of 77%. UGFNAB detected two additional metastases not visualized on CT, whereas CT detected no metastases not seen on UGFNAB. The results of UGFNAB were similar between the participating centers.

Conclusions: Approximately one half of the clinically occult nodal metastases in our patient group were identified by both CT and UGFNAB. Overall, UGFNAB and CT demonstrated comparable accuracy. The sensitivity of CT was slightly better than UGFNAB, but the latter remained characterized by a superior specificity. The results of CT and UGFNAB did not appear to be supplementary. The choice of imaging modality for staging of the clinically negative neck depends on tumor site, T-stage, and experience and preference of the head and neck oncologist. If CT is required for staging of the primary tumor, additional staging of the neck by UGFNAB does not provide significant additional value.

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doi.org/10.1016/S0360-3016(97)00953-X, hdl.handle.net/1765/66394
International Journal of Radiation: Oncology - Biology - Physics
Department of Pathology

Takes, R., Righi, P., Meeuwis, C., Manni, H., Knegt, P., Marres, H., … Baatenburg de Jong, R. J. (1998). The value of ultrasound with ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsy compared to computed tomography in the detection of regional metastases in the clinically negative neck. International Journal of Radiation: Oncology - Biology - Physics, 40(5), 1027–1032. doi:10.1016/S0360-3016(97)00953-X