Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve: practical review for radiologists

Korean J Radiol. 2004 Jan-Mar;5(1):11-8. doi: 10.3348/kjr.2004.5.1.11.


The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve, which is defined as a plot of test sensitivity as they coordinate versus its 1-specificity or false positive rate (FPR) as the x coordinate, is an effective method of evaluating the performance of diagnostic tests. The purpose of this article is to provide a nonmathematical introduction to ROC analysis. Important concepts involved in the correct use and interpretation of this analysis, such as smooth and empirical ROC curves, parametric and nonparametric methods, the area under the ROC curve and its 95% confidence interval, the sensitivity at a particular FPR, and the use of a partial area under the ROC curve are discussed. Various considerations concerning the collection of data in radiological ROC studies are briefly discussed. An introduction to the software frequently used for performing ROC analyses is also presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Area Under Curve
  • Humans
  • ROC Curve*
  • Radiography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Software
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / diagnostic imaging
  • Statistics, Nonparametric