Management implications of fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance in untreated intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma



Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) is associated with a poor prognosis with surgical resection offering the best chance for long-term survival and potential cure. However, in up to 36% of patients who undergo surgery, more extensive disease is found at time of operation requiring cancellation of surgery. PET/MR is a novel hybrid technology that might improve local and whole-body staging in ICC patients, potentially influencing clinical management. This study was aimed to investigate the possible management implications of PET/MR, relative to conventional imaging, in patients affected by untreated intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.


Retrospective review of the clinicopathologic features of 37 patients with iCCC, who underwent PET/MR between September 2015 and August 2018, was performed to investigate the management implications that PET/MR had exerted on the affected patients, relative to conventional imaging.


Of the 37 patients enrolled, median age 63.5 years, 20 (54%) were female. The same day PET/CT was performed in 26 patients. All patients were iCCC-treatment-naïve. Conventional imaging obtained as part of routine clinical care demonstrated early-stage resectable disease for 15 patients and advanced stage disease beyond the scope of surgical resection for 22. PET/MR modified the clinical management of 11/37 (29.7%) patients: for 5 patients (13.5%), the operation was cancelled due to identification of additional disease, while 4 “inoperable” patients (10.8%) underwent an operation. An additional 2 patients (5.4%) had a significant change in their operative plan based on PET/MR.


When compared with standard imaging, PET/MR significantly influenced the treatment plan in 29.7% of patients with iCCC.

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intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma


trans-arterial chemoembolization


positron emission tomography


computed tomography


magnetic resonance


positron emission tomography/computed tomography


positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance






median overall survival


diffusion-weighted imaging


apparent diffusion coefficient




standard deviation


national comprehensive cancer network


extracorporeal beam radiation therapy


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We would like to remember and acknowledge Pierpaolo Catalano, JD, for his continuous support.

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Correspondence to Onofrio A. Catalano.

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Clinical trial registration

This retrospective study had not been registered with any agency. It has been conducted under IRB approval granted by Partners Healthcare Institutional Review Board (Protocol No. 2018P001334). Patient consent has been waived.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Patient consent has been waived.

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Cristina Ferrone and Lipika Goyal share first authorship.

This article is part of the Topical Collection on Oncology – Digestive tract.

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Ferrone, C., Goyal, L., Qadan, M. et al. Management implications of fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance in untreated intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 47, 1871–1884 (2020).

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  • PET/MR
  • Cholangiocarcinoma
  • Clinical management
  • Staging