Purpose: To determine the sensitivity of radiologist observers for detecting colonic polyps by using three different data review (display) modes for computed tomographic (CT) colonography, or "virtual colonoscopy."
Materials and methods: CT colonographic data in a patient with a normal colon were used as base data for insertion of digitally synthesized polyps. Forty such polyps (3.5, 5, 7, and 10 mm in diameter) were randomly inserted in four copies of the base data. Axial CT studies, volume-rendered virtual endoscopic movies, and studies from a three-dimensional mode termed "panoramic endoscopy" were reviewed blindly and independently by two radiologists.
Results: Detection improved with increasing polyp size. Trends in sensitivity were dependent on whether all inserted lesions or only visible lesions were considered, because modes differed in how completely the colonic surface was depicted. For both reviewers and all polyps 7 mm or larger, panoramic endoscopy resulted in significantly greater sensitivity (90%) than did virtual endoscopy (68%, P = .014). For visible lesions only, the sensitivities were 85%, 81%, and 60% for one reader and 65%, 62%, and 28% for the other for virtual endoscopy, panoramic endoscopy, and axial CT, respectively. Three-dimensional displays were more sensitive than two-dimensional displays (P < .05).
Conclusion: The sensitivity of panoramic endoscopy is higher than that of virtual endoscopy, because the former displays more of the colonic surface. Higher sensitivities for three-dimensional displays may justify the additional computation and review time.