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


Radboud University Medical Center




Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma


Diagnostic Test: USPIO-enhanced MRI

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


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.

Full description

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.


25 estimated patients




18+ years old


No Healthy Volunteers

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.

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Single Group Assignment


None (Open label)

25 participants in 1 patient group

USPIO enhanced-MRI
Experimental group
The contrast agent ferumoxtran-10 will be administered intravenously under constant medical supervision 24-36 hours before performing a T2* weighted MRI scan (prior to surgery).
Diagnostic Test: USPIO-enhanced MRI

Trial contacts and locations



Central trial contact

Daphne Driessen, MD; Tim Dijkema, MD, PhD

Data sourced from

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