Diagnostic Performance of MRI for the Detection of Pulmonary Nodules: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Radiol Cardiothorac Imaging. 2024 Apr;6(2):e230241. doi: 10.1148/ryct.230241.


Purpose To perform a meta-analysis of the diagnostic performance of MRI for the detection of pulmonary nodules, with use of CT as the reference standard. Materials and Methods PubMed, Embase, Scopus, and other databases were systematically searched for studies published from January 2000 to March 2023 evaluating the performance of MRI for diagnosis of lung nodules measuring 4 mm or larger, with CT as reference. Studies including micronodules, nodules without size stratification, or those from which data for contingency tables could not be extracted were excluded. Primary outcomes were the per-lesion sensitivity of MRI and the rate of false-positive nodules per patient (FPP). Subgroup analysis by size and meta-regression with other covariates were performed. The study protocol was registered in the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews, or PROSPERO (no. CRD42023437509). Results Ten studies met inclusion criteria (1354 patients and 2062 CT-detected nodules). Overall, per-lesion sensitivity of MRI for nodules measuring 4 mm or larger was 87.7% (95% CI: 81.1, 92.2), while the FPP rate was 12.4% (95% CI: 7.0, 21.1). Subgroup analyses demonstrated that MRI sensitivity was 98.5% (95% CI: 90.4, 99.8) for nodules measuring at least 8-10 mm and 80.5% (95% CI: 71.5, 87.1) for nodules less than 8 mm. Conclusion MRI demonstrated a good overall performance for detection of pulmonary nodules measuring 4 mm or larger and almost equal performance to CT for nodules measuring at least 8-10 mm, with a low rate of FPP. Systematic review registry no. CRD42023437509 Keywords: Lung Nodule, Lung Cancer, Lung Cancer Screening, MRI, CT Supplemental material is available for this article. © RSNA, 2024.

Keywords: CT; Lung Cancer; Lung Cancer Screening; Lung Nodule; MRI.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Asparagales*
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Multiple Pulmonary Nodules*