AIM: To compare the diagnostic accuracy of computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) for the preoperative detection of paraaortic lymph node (PAN) metastasis in patients with intra-abdominal malignancies. METHODS: Sixty-six patients with intra-abdominal malignancies who underwent both CT and PET before lymphadenectomy were included in this study. Histopathologically, 13 patients had metastatic PAN, while 53 had non-metastatic PAN. The CT criteria for metastasis were: short diameter of > 8 mm, lobular or irregular shape, and/or combined ancillary findings, including necrosis, conglomeration, vessel encasement, and infiltration. The PET criterion was positive fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), negative predictive value (NPV), and accuracy of both modalities were compared with the pathologic findings, and the false positive and false negative cases with both CT and PET were analyzed. RESULTS: The sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV, and accuracy of CT were 61.5%, 84.9%, 50%, 90% and 80.3%, respectively. For PET, the percentages were 46.2%, 100%, 100%, 88.3%, and 89.4%. Additionally, there were 8 false positive CT cases (8/53, 15.1%) and zero false positive PET cases. Of the 13 metastatic PANs, there were 5 false negative CT scans (38.5%) and 7 (53.9%) false negative PET scans. CONCLUSION: For detecting PAN metastasis, CT is more sensitive than PET, while PET is more specific.
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