Surveillance of small, solid pulmonary nodules at digital chest tomosynthesis: data from a cohort of the pilot Swedish CArdioPulmonary bioImage Study (SCAPIS)

Acta Radiol. 2021 Mar;62(3):348-359. doi: 10.1177/0284185120923106. Epub 2020 May 21.


Background: Digital tomosynthesis (DTS) might be a low-dose/low-cost alternative to computed tomography (CT).

Purpose: To investigate DTS relative to CT for surveillance of incidental, solid pulmonary nodules.

Material and methods: Recruited from a population study, 106 participants with indeterminate solid pulmonary nodules on CT underwent surveillance with concurrently performed CT and DTS. Nodule size on DTS was assessed by manual diameter measurements and semi-automatic nodule segmentations were independently performed on CT. Measurement agreement was analyzed according to Bland-Altman with 95% limits of agreement (LoA). Detection of nodule volume change > 25% by DTS in comparison to CT was evaluated with receiver operating characteristics (ROC).

Results: A total of 81 nodules (76%) were assessed as measurable on DTS by two independent observers. Inter- and intra-observer LoA regarding change in average diameter were ± 2 mm. Calculation of relative volume change on DTS resulted in wide inter- and intra-observer LoA in the order of ± 100% and ± 50%. Comparing relative volume change between DTS and CT resulted in LoA of -58% to 67%. The area under the ROC curve regarding the ability of DTS to detect volumetric changes > 25% on CT was 0.58 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.40-0.76) and 0.50 (95% CI = 0.35-0.66) for the two observers.

Conclusion: The results of the present study show that measurement variability limits the agreement between DTS and CT regarding nodule size change for small solid nodules.

Keywords: Lung; computer applications – detection; diagnosis; digital radiography; radiation safety.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / diagnostic imaging*
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / pathology
  • Sweden
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed