Objective: To assess the performance of adaptive statistical iterative reconstruction (ASIR)-applied ultra-low-dose CT (ULDCT) in detecting small lung nodules.
Materials and methods: Thirty patients underwent both ULDCT and standard dose CT (SCT). After determining the reference standard nodules, five observers, blinded to the reference standard reading results, independently evaluated SCT and both subsets of ASIR- and filtered back projection (FBP)-driven ULDCT images. Data assessed by observers were compared statistically.
Results: Converted effective doses in SCT and ULDCT were 2.81 ± 0.92 and 0.17 ± 0.02 mSv, respectively. A total of 114 lung nodules were detected on SCT as a standard reference. There was no statistically significant difference in sensitivity between ASIR-driven ULDCT and SCT for three out of the five observers (p = 0.678, 0.735, < 0.01, 0.038, and < 0.868 for observers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively). The sensitivity of FBP-driven ULDCT was significantly lower than that of ASIR-driven ULDCT in three out of the five observers (p < 0.01 for three observers, and p = 0.064 and 0.146 for two observers). In jackknife alternative free-response receiver operating characteristic analysis, the mean values of figure-of-merit (FOM) for FBP, ASIR-driven ULDCT, and SCT were 0.682, 0.772, and 0.821, respectively, and there were no significant differences in FOM values between ASIR-driven ULDCT and SCT (p = 0.11), but the FOM value of FBP-driven ULDCT was significantly lower than that of ASIR-driven ULDCT and SCT (p = 0.01 and 0.00).
Conclusion: Adaptive statistical iterative reconstruction-driven ULDCT delivering a radiation dose of only 0.17 mSv offers acceptable sensitivity in nodule detection compared with SCT and has better performance than FBP-driven ULDCT.
Keywords: Adaptive statistical iterative reconstruction; Image reconstruction; Lung; Multidetector computed tomography; Radiation dosage.