Conventional chest radiography vs dual-energy computed radiography in the detection and characterization of pulmonary nodules

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1994 Feb;162(2):271-8. doi: 10.2214/ajr.162.2.8310908.


Objective: We evaluated a single-exposure, phosphor-plate, dual-energy imaging device that produces, in addition to conventional chest radiographs, both tissue- and bone-selective images. Our purpose was to determine whether dual-energy radiography was more accurate than routine chest radiography for detection and characterization of pulmonary nodules.

Subjects and methods: Two hundred patients undergoing chest CT were asked to volunteer to have dual-energy and conventional chest radiographs obtained immediately before or after their CT scan. Radiographs from a subset of 50 of these patients with 116 CT-detected nodules and 10 patients with normal findings on CT scans of the chest were presented to the observers for the nodule detection study. Similarly, radiographs from a subset of 29 patients with 20 calcified and 20 uncalcified nodules were presented to five observers to determine nodule calcification. Dual-energy images were produced by filtering the X-ray tube output with a gadolinium sheet while using a multiple phosphor plate receptor. A dual-energy triad of images consisting of a conventional image, a tissue-selective image, and a bone-selective image were produced. The conventional chest radiographs and dual-energy image sets were presented to observers in random order. Data from a free response receiver operating curve and a receiver operating curve were generated for nodule detection and characterization, respectively.

Results: By using the dual-energy images, all five observers improved their ability to diagnose pulmonary nodules (p = .0005) and to characterize nodules as calcified (p = .005).

Conclusion: By eliminating rib shadows with tissue-selective images and enhancing calcified structures with bone-selective images, dual-energy chest radiography improved the ability of all observers, regardless of expertise, to detect and characterize pulmonary nodules.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • False Positive Reactions
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • ROC Curve
  • Radiography, Dual-Energy Scanned Projection*
  • Ribs / diagnostic imaging
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / diagnostic imaging*
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / epidemiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*