Purpose: To prospectively evaluate in a phantom the effects of reconstruction kernel, field of view (FOV), and section thickness on automated measurements of pulmonary nodule volume.
Materials and methods: Spherical and lobulated pulmonary nodules 3-15 mm in diameter were placed in a commercially available lung phantom and scanned by using a 16-section computed tomographic (CT) scanner. Nodule volume (V) was determined by using the diameters of 27 spherical nodules and the mass and density values of 29 lobulated nodules measured by using the formulas V = (4/3)pi r(3) (spherical nodules) and V = 1000 x (M/D) (lobulated nodules) as reference standards, where r is nodule radius; M, nodule mass; and D, wax density. Experiments were performed to evaluate seven reconstruction kernels and the independent effects of FOV and section thickness. Automated nodule volume measurements were performed by using computer-assisted volume measurement software. General linear regression models were used to examine the independent effects of each parameter, with percentage overestimation of volume as the dependent variable of interest.
Results: There was no substantial difference in the accuracy of volume estimations across the seven reconstruction kernels. The bone reconstruction kernel was deemed optimal on the basis of the results of a series of statistical analyses and other qualitative findings. Overall, volume accuracy was significantly associated (P < .0001) with larger reference standard-measured nodule diameter. There was substantial overestimation of the volumes of the 3-5-mm nodules measured by using the volume measurement software. Decreasing the FOV facilitated no significant improvement in the precision of lobulated nodule volume measurements. The accuracy of volume estimations--particularly those for small nodules--was significantly (P < .0001) affected by section thickness.
Conclusion: Substantial, highly variable overestimation of volume occurs with decreasing nodule diameter. A section thickness that enables the acquisition of at least three measurements along the z-axis should be used to measure the volumes of larger pulmonary nodules.
(c) RSNA, 2008.