Quantitative assessment of nonsolid pulmonary nodule volume with computed tomography in a phantom study

Marios A. Gavrielides, Benjamin P. Berman, Mark Supanich, Kurt Schultz, Qin Li, Nicholas Petrick, Rongping Zeng, Jenifer Siegelman


Background: To assess the volumetric measurement of small (≤1 cm) nonsolid nodules with computed tomography (CT), focusing on the interaction of state of the art iterative reconstruction (IR) methods and dose with nodule densities, sizes, and shapes.
Methods: Twelve synthetic nodules [5 and 10 mm in diameter, densities of −800, −630 and −10 Hounsfield units (HU), spherical and spiculated shapes] were scanned within an anthropomorphic phantom. Dose [computed tomography scan dose index (CTDIvol)] ranged from standard (4.1 mGy) to below screening levels (0.3 mGy). Data was reconstructed using filtered back-projection and two state-of-the-art IR methods (adaptive and model-based). Measurements were extracted with a previously validated matched filter-based estimator. Analysis of accuracy and precision was based on evaluation of percent bias (PB) and the repeatability coefficient (RC) respectively.
Results: Density had the most important effect on measurement error followed by the interaction of density with nodule size. The nonsolid −630 HU nodules had high accuracy and precision at levels comparable to solid (−10 HU) nonsolid, regardless of reconstruction method and with CTDIvol as low as 0.6 mGy. PB was <5% and <11% for the 10- and 5-mm in nominal diameter −630 HU nodules respectively, and RC was <5% and <12% for the same nodules. For nonsolid −800 HU nodules, PB increased to <11% and <30% for the 10- and 5-mm nodules respectively, whereas RC increased slightly overall but varied widely across dose and reconstruction algorithms for the 5-mm nodules. Model-based IR improved measurement accuracy for the 5-mm, low-density (−800, −630 HU) nodules. For other nodules the effect of reconstruction method was small. Dose did not affect volumetric accuracy and only affected slightly the precision of 5-mm nonsolid nodules.
Conclusions: Reasonable values of both accuracy and precision were achieved for volumetric measurements of all 10-mm nonsolid nodules, and for the 5-mm nodules with −630 HU or higher density, when derived from scans acquired with below screening dose levels as low as 0.6 mGy and regardless of reconstruction algorithm.