Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Paper reports data from PET/CT scan, years before it arrived

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MedicineAuthors have retracted a study just three months after publishing it, upon realizing they made “several critical errors.”

For one, the authors didn’t actually collect the data they claim to in the title of the paper, which reported on methods to screen patients for recurrence of lung cancer. The authors included data from positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT), collected from 2003 to 2007 — but their institution didn’t have a PET/CT scanner until 2009. Instead, the authors had mistakenly reported the results of PET scans alone, which may not find tumors as effectively as PET/CT.

Here’s the retraction notice in Medicine, which explains the nature of the error in more detail. (Note: One of the authors supplied some missing text, in brackets.)

The authors have requested that the article ‘‘Long-term Follow-up Results from PET/CT Surveillance after Surgical Resection of Lung Adenocarcinoma Manifesting as Ground-glass opacity’’ be retracted. The authors found several critical errors in the article which were not detected before the publication. Specific details as follows:

1. Substantial number of patients in the study underwent postoperative follow-up with PET alone instead of PET/CT. PET/CT was installed in our institution in 2009 and PET (without CT component) was used before 2009. The authors misunderstood that all the patients in this study underwent PET/CT, but recently realized that this was incorrect. PET alone may be inferior to PET/CT for detection of small pulmonary lesions due to limited spatial resolution, and the mixed data from PET/CT and PET alone might have influenced our study results. The authors’ major concern is that the results from our study [may give misinformation to the readers.]

2. Specific details for PET/CT (Methods: Image acquisition, page 2): The specific details regarding the PET/CT was described incorrectly. As stated above, PET alone (used before 2009) should have been included in the description. Additionally, the authors made a mistake in describing of the brand name for PET/CT (Gemini, Phillips). The PET/CT scanner used in this study was DVCT, GE healthcare.

3. Considering the mixed data (from PET alone and PET/CT), the title of this study (Long-term Follow-up Results from PET/CT Surveillance) is incorrect.

After discussion, the authors concluded that the study may give misinformation to the readers, and therefore they have decided to withdraw the article.

The paper has not been cited, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

Corresponding author Tae Jung Kim, based at the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, told us:

We found important errors in our article which we failed to detect before the publication, and requested to the journal for the retraction of the article.

Recently, we realized that substantial number of patients in our study underwent follow-up PET alone instead of PET/CT.

PET/CT was installed in 2009 and PET (without CT component) was used before 2009. At the time of medical record review in 2013, we misunderstood that all patients in the study underwent PET/CT because both PET alone and PET/CT used the same study name and study code. Recently, one of the nuclear medicine physicians informed us that the study period included both PET alone and PET/CT and we realized that the study included both PET and PET/CT data. We think that our mistake could have been avoided if we had reviewed the data more carefully.

PET alone may be inferior to PET/CT for detection of small pulmonary lesions due to limited spatial resolution, and the mixed data from PET/CT and PET alone might have influenced our study results. Thus, we decided to retract the article because our study may give misinformation to the readers.

We have reached out to the editor, Weisheng Zhang. We could not find contact information for the first author, Kyung Bum Nam, nor the last author, Kyung Won Lee.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

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Written by Shannon Palus

June 1st, 2016 at 11:30 am

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