Objective: The purpose of our study was to evaluate the efficacy of CT histogram analysis for further characterization of lipid-poor adenomas on unenhanced CT.
Materials and methods: One hundred thirty-two adrenal nodules were identified in 104 patients with lung cancer who underwent PET/CT. Sixty-five nodules were classified as lipid-rich adenomas if they had an unenhanced CT attenuation of less than or equal to 10 H. Thirty-one masses were classified as lipid-poor adenomas if they had an unenhanced CT attenuation greater than 10 H and stability for more than 1 year. Thirty-six masses were classified as lung cancer metastases if they showed rapid growth in 1 year (n = 27) or were biopsy-proven (n = 9). Histogram analysis was performed for all lesions to provide the mean attenuation value and percentage of negative pixels.
Results: All lipid-rich adenomas had more than 10% negative pixels; 51.6% of lipid-poor adenomas had more than 10% negative pixels and would have been classified as indeterminate nodules on the basis of mean attenuation alone. None of the metastases had more than 10% negative pixels. Using an unenhanced CT mean attenuation threshold of less than 10 H yielded a sensitivity of 68% and specificity of 100% for the diagnosis of an adenoma. Using an unenhanced CT threshold of more than 10% negative pixels yielded a sensitivity of 84% and specificity of 100% for the diagnosis of an adenoma.
Conclusion: CT histogram analysis is superior to mean CT attenuation analysis for the evaluation of adrenal nodules and may help decrease referrals for additional imaging or biopsy.