Association of CEA test and liver scan in detection of hepatic metastases of gastrointestinal carcinoma

G. L. Buraggi, E. Bombardieri, M. R. Castellani, A. Rodari, F. Crippa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors evaluate the combined use of liver scan and the CEA test in diagnosis of hepatic metastases of carcinoma of the gastrointestinal tract. Association of the two tests is justified by the fact that the liver scan is very specific but not very sensitive, whereas the CEA test is more sensitive and not very specific. The sensitivity of the CEA test, on the other hand, can be increased by increasing the threshold of normality. However, the associated diagnostic use of the liver scan and the CEA test gives a loss of specificity with respect to the use of the liver scan alone. The present study, carried out on a series of 376 patients affected by gastrointestinal tumors of which 79 were of the stomach (9 with hepatic metastases), 133 of the colon and higher sigmoid (25 with hepatic metastases), and 164 of the lower sigmoid and rectum (29 with hepatic metastases), proposed to establish by use of a statistical method the optimal threshold of the CEA test that would give the best diagnostic specificity of the combined CEA test and liver scan without any relevant loss of sensitivity. A threshold of 26 ng/ml of the CEA test gave a specificity of 92%, a sensitivity of 80%, and an accuracy of 90%. The authors think that in the detection of liver metastases of gastrointestinal tumors, the combined test can be more helpful the less the probability, for a given patient, for other metastatic localizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-558
Number of pages6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Association of CEA test and liver scan in detection of hepatic metastases of gastrointestinal carcinoma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this