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Detection of pulmonary nodule growth with dose reduced chest tomosynthesis: a human observer study using simulated nodules

Magazine article
Authors Christina Söderman
Åse (Allansdotter) Johnsson
Jenny Vikgren
Rauni Rossi-Norrlund
David Molnar
Maral Mirzai
Angelica Svalkvist
Lars Gunnar Månsson
Magnus Båth
Published in Progress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
Volume 9787
Pages 97870P
ISSN 1605-7422
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Radiation Physics
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Radiology
Institute of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine
Pages 97870P
Language en
Subject categories Radiological physics, Radiology


Chest tomosynthesis may be a suitable alternative to computed tomography for the clinical task of follow up of pulmonary nodules. The aim of the present study was to investigate the detection of pulmonary nodule growth suggestive of malignancy using chest tomosynthesis. Previous studies have indicated remained levels of detection of pulmonary nodules at dose levels corresponding to that of a conventional lateral radiograph, approximately 0.04 mSv, which motivated to perform the present study this dose level. Pairs of chest tomosynthesis image sets, where the image sets in each pair were acquired of the same patient at two separate occasions, were included in the study. Simulated nodules with original diameters of approximately 8 mm were inserted in the pairs of image sets, simulating situations where the nodule had remained stable in size or increased isotropically in size between the two different imaging occasions. Four different categories of nodule growth were included, corresponding to a volume increase of approximately 21 %, 68 %, 108 % and 250 %. All nodules were centered in the depth direction in the tomosynthesis images. All images were subjected to a simulated dose reduction, resulting in images corresponding to an effective dose of 0.04 mSv. Four observers were given the task of rating their confidence that the nodule was stable in size or not on a five-level rating scale. This was done both before any size measurements were made of the nodule as well as after measurements were performed. Using Receiver operating characteristic analysis, the rating data for the nodules that were stable in size was compared to the rating data for the nodules simulated to have increased in size. Statistically significant differences between the rating distributions for the stable nodules and all of the four nodule growth categories were found. For the three largest nodule growths, nearly perfect detection of nodule growth was seen. In conclusion, the present study indicates that during optimal imaging conditions and for nodules with diameters of approximately 8 mm that grow fairly symmetrically, chest tomosynthesis performed at a dose level corresponding to that of a lateral chest radiograph can, with high sensitivity, differentiate nodules stable in size from nodules growing at rates associated with fast growing malignant nodules.

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