OBJECTIVE: To compare virtual endoscopy (VE) with flexible endoscopy in patients with cancer of the larynx. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTINGS: This prospective study includes 24 patients with proven cancer of the larynx. Patients underwent spiral CT according to our standard protocol for upper airway imaging. This same set of axial scans was transferred to a dedicated workstation to obtain VE images. Results of VE were compared with the findings of flexible endoscopy. RESULTS: Quality of the examination was good in 96% of the patients. VE identified all exophytic lesions. Two small flat lesions could be observed as slightly enhanced plaques only on the axial scans. Subglottic extension was correctly demonstrated in all cases by associating VE to the axial scans. CONCLUSION: VE shows high sensitivity in the identification of exophytic lesions of the larynx and can establish relationships between cancer and nearby structures. It can be performed in the presence of severe stenosis and does not require sedation and additional scanning. On the other hand, VE show limits in the identification of flat lesions and does not allow biopsies and functional imaging to be performed. SIGNIFICANCE: VE is a useful tool for staging and presurgery treatment of cancer of the larynx.
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