Variability in CT lung-nodule volumetry: Effects of dose reduction and reconstruction methods

Authors


Abstract

Purpose:

Measuring the size of nodules on chest CT is important for lung cancer staging and measuring therapy response. 3D volumetry has been proposed as a more robust alternative to 1D and 2D sizing methods. There have also been substantial advances in methods to reduce radiation dose in CT. The purpose of this work was to investigate the effect of dose reduction and reconstruction methods on variability in 3D lung-nodule volumetry.

Methods:

Reduced-dose CT scans were simulated by applying a noise-addition tool to the raw (sinogram) data from clinically indicated patient scans acquired on a multidetector-row CT scanner (Definition Flash, Siemens Healthcare). Scans were simulated at 25%, 10%, and 3% of the dose of their clinical protocol (CTDIvol of 20.9 mGy), corresponding to CTDIvol values of 5.2, 2.1, and 0.6 mGy. Simulated reduced-dose data were reconstructed with both conventional filtered backprojection (B45 kernel) and iterative reconstruction methods (SAFIRE: I44 strength 3 and I50 strength 3). Three lab technologist readers contoured “measurable” nodules in 33 patients under each of the different acquisition/reconstruction conditions in a blinded study design. Of the 33 measurable nodules, 17 were used to estimate repeatability with their clinical reference protocol, as well as interdose and inter-reconstruction-method reproducibilities. The authors compared the resulting distributions of proportional differences across dose and reconstruction methods by analyzing their means, standard deviations (SDs), and t-test and F-test results.

Results:

The clinical-dose repeatability experiment yielded a mean proportional difference of 1.1% and SD of 5.5%. The interdose reproducibility experiments gave mean differences ranging from −5.6% to −1.7% and SDs ranging from 6.3% to 9.9%. The inter-reconstruction-method reproducibility experiments gave mean differences of 2.0% (I44 strength 3) and −0.3% (I50 strength 3), and SDs were identical at 7.3%. For the subset of repeatability cases, inter-reconstruction-method mean/SD pairs were (1.4%, 6.3%) and (−0.7%, 7.2%) for I44 strength 3 and I50 strength 3, respectively. Analysis of representative nodules confirmed that reader variability appeared unaffected by dose or reconstruction method.

Conclusions:

Lung-nodule volumetry was extremely robust to the radiation-dose level, down to the minimum scanner-supported dose settings. In addition, volumetry was robust to the reconstruction methods used in this study, which included both conventional filtered backprojection and iterative methods.

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