The impact of hybrid PET-CT scan on overall oncologic management, with a focus on radiotherapy planning: A prospective, blinded study

Tim J. Kruser, Kristin A. Bradley, Soren M. Bentzen, Bethany M. Anderson, Vinai Gondi, Deepak Khuntia, Scott B. Perlman, Wolfgang A. Tome, Richard J. Chappell, Wendy L. Walker, Minesh P. Mehta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Functional imaging using fluorodeoxyglucose positron-emission tomography (FDG-PET) has been increasing incorporated into radiotherapy planning in conjunction with computed tomography (CT). Hybrid FDG-PET/CT scanners allow these images to be obtained in very close temporal proximity without the need for repositioning patients, thereby minimizing imprecision when overlying these images. To prospectively examine the impact of hybrid PET/CT imaging on overall oncologic impact, with a focus on radiotherapy planning, we performed a prospective, blinded trial in 111 patients. Patients with lung cancer (n=38), head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma (n=23), breast (n=8), cervix (n=15), esophageal (n=9), and lymphoma (n=18) underwent hybrid PET/CT imaging at the time of radiation therapy planning. A physician blinded to the PET dataset designed a treatment plan using all clinical information and the CT dataset. The treating physician subsequently designed a second treatment plan using the hybrid PET/CT dataset. The two treatment plans were compared to determine if a major alteration in overall oncologic management occured. In patients receiving potentially curative radiotherapy the concordance between CT-based and PET/CT-based GTVs was quantified using an index of conformality (CI). In 76/111 (68%) of patients, the PET/CT data resulted in a change in one or more of the following: GTV volume, regional/local extension, prescribed dose, or treatment modality selection. In 35 of these 76 cases (46%; 31.5% of the entire cohort) the change resulted in a major alteration in the oncologic management (dose, field design, or modality change). Thus, nearly a third of all cases had a major alteration in oncologic management as a result of the PET/CT data, and 29 of 105 patients (27.6%) who underwent potentially curative radiotherapy had major alterations in either dose or field design. Hybrid PET/CT imaging at the time of treatment planning may be highly informative and an economical manner in which to obtain PET imaging, with the dual goals of staging and treatment planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
JournalTechnology in Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Computed tomography
  • Index of conformality
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Prospective study
  • Radiotherapy planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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