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To determine (1) the accuracy of positron emission tomography – computed tomography in the diagnosis of head and neck cancer, (2) the learning curve involved, and (3) whether its use alters patient management.
Materials and methods:
A retrospective study including 80 patients with head and neck cancer who underwent positron emission tomography – computed tomography image fusion at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Fifty-three patients underwent positron emission tomography – computed tomography for staging (32 for detection of a primary tumour and 21 for detection of distant metastasis) and 27 for detection of loco-regional recurrence. Ten primary tumours and 20 recurrences were accurately diagnosed by this method. Eighteen patients had their tumour stage and management modified as a result of this method of imaging. The effect of the learning curve resulted in better true positive detection rates, one year after introduction (81 versus 61 per cent). The sensitivity and specificity of this method in detecting head and neck cancer were 70 and 42 per cent, respectively, whereas those of conventional imaging were 73 and 51 per cent, respectively.
Compared with magnetic resonance imaging, the benefits of positron emission tomography – computed tomography may be limited to diagnosis of recurrence, as it is less hindered by tissue fibrosis, radiotherapy-related oedema, scarring and inflammation.
To compare the key functional results (regarding swallowing and voice rehabilitation) in patients treated by pharyngo-laryngectomy with flap reconstruction, versus standard, wide-field, total laryngectomy.
We studied 97 patients who had undergone total laryngectomy and pharyngo-laryngectomy with flap reconstruction. The main outcome measures were swallowing (i.e. solid food, soft diet, fluid or enteral feeding) and fluent voice development.
There were 79 men and 18 women, with follow up of one to 19 years. Voice (p = 0.037) and swallowing (p = 0.041) results were significantly worse after circumferential pharyngo-laryngectomy than after non-circumferential pharyngo-laryngectomy. There was no significant difference in voice (p = 0.23) or swallowing (p = 0.655) results, comparing total laryngectomy and non-circumferential pharyngo-laryngectomy. The presence of a post-operative fistula significantly influenced voice (p = 0.001) and swallowing (p = 0.009) outcomes.
The additional measures involved in pharyngo-laryngectomy do not confer any functional disadvantage, compared with total laryngectomy, but only if the procedure is non-circumferential. Functional results of circumferential pharyngo-laryngectomy are worse than those of both non-circumferential pharyngo-laryngectomy and total laryngectomy. If oncologically possible and safe, it is better to keep a pharyngo-laryngectomy non-circumferential.
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