The role of FDG-PET in the selection of patients with colorectal liver metastases

B. Wiering, P. Krabbe, H. Dekker, W. Oyen and T. Ruers

Department of Surgical Oncology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, P.O. Box 9101, 6500, HB, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Feb, 2007



Selection of patients for hepatic resection of colorectal liver metastases is still limited. After conventional work up by computed tomography (CT) scan, 60\% of patients will develop recurrent disease in the early years after resection. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether an additional fluorine-18-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) improves patient selection and therefore adds value to select patients for curative liver resection.Data from 203 patients selected for surgical treatment of colorectal liver metastases between 1995 and 2003 were collected in a prospective database. Group A consisted of 100 consecutive patients selected for hepatic surgery by conventional diagnostic imaging (CT chest and abdomen) only. Group B consisted of 103 consecutive patients selected for hepatic surgery by conventional diagnostic methods plus an additional FDG-PET.The number of patients with futile surgery, in which further treatment was considered inappropriate at laparotomy, was 28.0\% in group A and 19.4\% in group B. The reason for unresectable disease differed between groups. In group A, 10/100 (10.0\%) patients showed extrahepatic abdominal disease versus 2/103 patients (1.9\%) in group B (P = .017). In all other cases, resection was not performed because liver disease proved too extensive at laparotomy. For patients ultimately undergoing surgical treatment of the metastases, survival was comparable between groups. Overall survival at 3 years was 57.1\% in group A versus 60.1\% in group B. Disease-free survival at 3 years was 23.0\% in group A and 31.4\% in group B.In patients with colorectal liver metastases, FDG-PET may reduce the number of negative laparotomies. However, the effect size on the selection of these patients seems not sufficient enough to affect the overall and disease-free survival after treatment.