BACKGROUND. CT is the imaging modality of choice to identify lung metastasis. OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the performance of reduced-dose CT for the detection of lung nodules in children and young adults with cancer. METHODS. This prospective study enrolled patients 4-21 years old with known or suspected malignancy who were undergoing clinically indicated chest CT. Study participants underwent an additional investigational reduced-dose chest CT examination in the same imaging encounter. Separated deidentified CT examinations were reviewed in blinded fashion by three independent radiologists. One reviewer performed a subsequent secondary review to match nodules between the standard- and reduced-dose examinations. Diagnostic performance was computed for the reduced-dose examinations using the clinical examinations as the reference standard. Intraobserver agreement and interobserver agreement were calculated using Cohen kappa. RESULTS. A total of 78 patients (44 male patients and 34 female patients; mean age, 15.2 ± 3.8 [SD] years) were enrolled. The mean estimated effective dose was 1.8 ± 1.1 mSv for clinical CT and 0.3 ± 0.1 mSv for reduced-dose CT, which is an 83% dose reduction. Forty-five of the 78 (58%) patients had 162 total lung nodules (mean size, 3.4 ± 3.3 mm) detected on the clinical CT examinations. A total of 92% of nodules were visible on reduced-dose CT. The sensitivity and specificity of reduced-dose CT for nodules ranged from 63% to 77% and from 80% to 90%, respectively, across the three reviewers. Intraob-server agreement between clinical CT and reduced-dose CT was moderate to substantial for the presence of nodules (κ = 0.45-0.67) and was good to excellent for the number of nodules (κ = 0.68-0.84) and nodule size (κ = 0.69-0.86). Interobserver agreement for the presence of nodules was moderate for both reduced-dose (κ = 0.53) and clinical (κ = 0.54) CT. A median of one nodule was present on clinical CT in patients with a falsely negative reduced-dose CT examination. CONCLUSION. Reduced-dose CT depicts more than 90% of lung nodules in children and young adults with cancer. Reviewers identified the presence of nodules with moderate sensitivity and high specificity. CLINICAL IMPACT. CT performed at a 0.3-mSv mean effective dose has acceptable diagnostic performance for lung nodule detection in children and young adults and has the potential to reduce patient dose or expand CT utilization (e.g., to replace radiography in screening or monitoring protocols). TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03681873.
Keywords: CT; cancer; low dose; metastases; pediatric.