Lung nodule volumetry: segmentation algorithms within the same software package cannot be used interchangeably

Eur Radiol. 2010 Aug;20(8):1878-85. doi: 10.1007/s00330-010-1749-z. Epub 2010 Mar 20.


Objective: We examined the reproducibility of lung nodule volumetry software that offers three different volumetry algorithms.

Methods: In a lung cancer screening trial, 188 baseline nodules >5 mm were identified. Including follow-ups, these nodules formed a study-set of 545 nodules. Nodules were independently double read by two readers using commercially available volumetry software. The software offers readers three different analysing algorithms. We compared the inter-observer variability of nodule volumetry when the readers used the same and different algorithms.

Results: Both readers were able to correctly segment and measure 72% of nodules. In 80% of these cases, the readers chose the same algorithm. When readers used the same algorithm, exactly the same volume was measured in 50% of readings and a difference of >25% was observed in 4%. When the readers used different algorithms, 83% of measurements showed a difference of >25%.

Conclusion: Modern volumetric software failed to correctly segment a high number of screen detected nodules. While choosing a different algorithm can yield better segmentation of a lung nodule, reproducibility of volumetric measurements deteriorates substantially when different algorithms were used. It is crucial even in the same software package to choose identical parameters for follow-up.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Algorithms*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Software Validation*
  • Software*
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*