Objective: To devise a new method to measure the amount of soft tissue in pulmonary ground-glass opacity nodules, and to compare the use of this method with a previous volumetric measurement method by use of a phantom study.
Materials and methods: Phantom nodules were prepared with material from fixed normal swine lung. Forty nodules, each with a diameter of 10 mm, were made with a variable mean attenuation. The reference-standard amount of soft tissue in the nodules was obtained by dividing the weight by the specific gravity. The imaging data on the phantom nodules were acquired with the use of a 16-channel multidetector CT scanner. The CT-measured amount of soft tissue of the nodules was calculated as follows: soft tissue amount = volume x (1 + mean attenuation value / 1,000). The relative percentage error (RPE) between the CT-measured amount of the soft tissue and the reference-standard amount of the soft tissue was also measured. The RPEs determined with use of the new method were compared with the RPEs determined with the current volumetric measurement method by the use of the paired t test.
Results: The CT-measured amount of soft tissue showed a strong correlation with the reference-standard amount of soft tissue (R(2) = 0.996, p < 0.01). The mean RPE of the CT-measured amount of soft tissue in the nodules was -7.79 +/- 1.88%. The mean RPE of the CT-measured volume was 114.78 +/- 51.02%, which was significantly greater than the RPE of the CT-measured amount of soft tissue (p < 0.01).
Conclusion: The amount of soft tissue measured by the use of CT reflects the reference-standard amount of soft tissue in the ground-glass opacity nodules much more accurately than does the use of the CT-measured volume.