Validation of USPIO-enhanced MRI for Detection of Lymph Node Metastases in Head and Neck Carcinoma (USPIO-NECK)

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    Radboud University
Updated on 3 February 2022
squamous cell carcinoma
squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity
head and neck carcinoma


This study evaluates the diagnostic accuracy of USPIO enhanced MRI for the detection of lymph node metastases in head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) using histopathology as a gold standard.


The presence of lymph node metastases has a large impact on prognosis and treatment in head-and neck cancer patients and necessitates treatment intensification. Determining lymph node status, however, is a challenge because up to 20% of patients with a pre-operative clinically negative neck will have occult metastases in the neck dissection specimen. One promising technique is USPIO-enhanced MRI, an MR-imaging technique in which ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide (USPIO) particles are intravenously infused as a contrast agent in patients 24-36 hours before the MRI examination and has proven to be of value in detecting lymph node metastases in various types of cancer. The investigators want to validate this technique in a cohort of head and neck cancer patients who undergo neck dissection surgery. Histopathology wills serve as the gold standard and the correlation will be made on a (neck)level-to-level and node-to-node basis. Since the investigators have no experience in reading USPIO-enhanced MR images of the neck with 3-dimensional iron-sensitive MR sequences, this study starts with an explorative part and will be followed by the pilot study. The explorative component aims at obtaining knowledge regarding visual features of (non-)metastatic cervical lymph nodes on USPIO-enhanced MR images. The purpose is that the observers work through a learning curve. The information obtained will be used to develop a scoring system for the radiologic assessment of cervical lymph nodes in the subsequent part of our study.

If USPIO-enhanced MRI is successful, this may obviate the need for a sentinel node procedure for example. Furthermore, it could guide treatment such as the performance of more selective neck dissections and de-escalation of the radiation dose to healthy tissues in order to decrease morbidity but maintaining high cure rates.

Condition Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Treatment USPIO-enhanced MRI
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03817307
SponsorRadboud University
Last Modified on3 February 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Patients with histopathologically proven cT0-4N0-3M0 SCC of the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, larynx or unknown primary
Patients planned to undergo a neck dissection
Patient provided written informed consent

Exclusion Criteria

Patients who underwent radio- and/or chemotherapy to the neck before surgery
Patients who had a previous lymphadenectomy in the head and neck region
Patients with contraindications to MRI (epilepsy; claustrophobia; metallic splinters; pacemaker, pacemaker wires or implanted defibrillator; implanted magnets in jaw; arterial clips (carotid arteries); pregnancy; auditory implant, neurogenic bladder stimulator, insulin pump, neurostimulator, baclofen pump; metallic tissue expander after mastectomy; cochlear implant; metallic braces; other foreign bodies implanted)
Patients with contraindications to USPIO based contrast agents (prior allergic reaction to ferumoxtran-10 or any other iron preparation; prior allergic reaction attributed to dextran or other polysaccharide, in any preparation; hereditary hemochromatosis, hemosiderosis, chronic hemolytic anaemia (e.g. thalassemia, sickle cell anaemia); pregnancy)
Unable to provide informed consent
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