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Background and aims: The role of three-dimensional positron emission tomography/computed tomography (3 D PET/CT) in esophageal tumors that move with respiration and have potential for significant mucosal inflammation is unclear. The aim of this study was to determine the correlation between gross tumor volumes derived from 3 D PET/CT and endoscopically placed fiducial markers.

Methods: This was a retrospective, IRB approved analysis of 40 patients with esophageal cancer with fiducials implanted and PET/CT. The centroid of each fiducial was identified on PET/CT images. Distance between tumor volume and fiducials was measured using axial slices. Image features were extracted and tested for pathologic response predictability.

Results: The median adaptively calculated threshold value of the standardized uptake value (SUV) to define the metabolic tumor volume (MTV) border was 2.50, which corresponded to a median 23 % of the maximum SUV. The median distance between the inferior fiducial centroid and MTV was – 0.60 cm (– 3.9 to 2.7 cm). The median distance between the superior fiducial centroid and MTV was 1.25 cm (– 4.2 to 6.9 cm). There was no correlation between MTV-to-fiducial distances greater than 2 cm and the gastroenterologist who performed the fiducial implantation. Eccentricity demonstrated statistically significant correlations with pathologic response.

Conclusions: There was a stronger correlation between inferior fiducial location and MTV border compared to the superior extent. The etiology of the discordance superiorly is unclear, potentially representing benign secondary esophagitis, presence of malignant nodes, inflammation caused by technical aspects of the fiducial placement itself, or potential submucosal disease. Given the concordance inferiorly and the ability to more precisely set up the patient with daily image guidance matching to fiducials, it may be possible to minimize the planning tumor volume (PTV) margin in select patients, thereby, limiting dose to normal structures.

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Endoscopy International Open, v. 5, issue 6, p. E496-E504