OBJECTIVES: To clarify the diagnostic utility of CT in the evaluation of carcinoma of the maxillary gingiva and hard palate. METHODS: The CT scans of 27 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the upper gingiva and hard palate were reviewed. Tumor extent and bone destruction were compared with the surgical and histopathological findings to estimate the sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of CT. RESULTS: The primary tumor was detected by CT in 89% of patients. The grade of bone destruction determined by CT correlated well with that verified at surgery or by histopathological examination. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of CT for invasion to the buccal mucosa were 64%, 89% and 75% respectively. For maxillary sinus invasion, CT showed low specificity but high sensitivity. The accuracy was 86% when the criterion for sinus invasion was the presence of an enhanced mass continuous with the primary tumor. CONCLUSION: CT is helpful for the evaluation of tumor extent in the upper gingiva and hard palate carcinoma. However, invasion of the maxillary sinus should be considered carefully, because CT findings suggestive of destruction of the floor of the maxillary sinus are not always consistent with sinus invasion.
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