CT colonography: Does improved z resolution help computer-aided polyp detection?



Multislice helical CT offers several retrospective choices of longitudinal (z) resolution at a given detector collimation setting. We sought to determine the effect of z resolution on the performance of a computer-aided colonic polyp detector, since a human reader and a computer-aided polyp detector may have optimal performances at different z resolutions. We ran a computer-aided polyp detection algorithm on phantom data sets as well as data obtained from a single patient. All data were reconstructed at various slice thicknesses ranging from 1.25 to 10 mm. We studied the performance of the detector at various ranges of polyp sizes using free-response receiver-operating characteristic analyses. We also studied contrast-to-noise ratios (CNR) as a function of slice thickness and polyp size. For the phantom data, reducing the slice thickness from 5 to 1.25 mm improves sensitivity from 84.5% to 98.3% (all polyps), from 61.4% to 95.5% (polyps in the range [0, 5) mm) and from 97.7% to 100% (polyps in the range [5, 10) mm) at a false positive rate of 20 per data set. For polyps larger than 10 mm, there is no significant improvement in detection sensitivity when slice thickness is reduced. CNRs showed expected behavior with slice thickness and polyp size, but in all cases remained high (> 4). The results for the patient data followed similar patterns to that of the phantom case. Thus we conclude that for this detector, the optimal slice thickness is dependent upon the size of the smallest polyps to be detected. For detection of polyps 10 mm and larger, reconstruction of 5 mm sections may be sufficient. Further study is required to generalize these results to a broader population of patients scanned on different scanners.