Pulmonary Nodules: Sensitivity of Maximum Intensity Projection versus That of Volume Rendering of 3D Multidetector CT Data

Purpose: To prospectively compare maximum intensity projection (MIP) and volume rendering (VR) of multidetector computed tomographic (CT) data for the detection of small intrapulmonary nodules.

Materials and Methods: This institutional review board–approved prospective study included 20 oncology patients (eight women and 12 men; mean age, 56 years ± 16 [standard deviation]) who underwent clinically indicated standard-dose thoracic multidetector CT and provided informed consent. Transverse thin slabs of the chest (thickness, 7 mm; reconstruction increment, 3.5 mm) were created by using MIP and VR techniques to reconstruct CT data (collimation, 16 × 0.75 mm) and were reviewed in interactive cine mode. Mean, minimum, and maximum reading time per examination and per radiologist was documented. Three radiologists digitally annotated all nodules seen in a way that clearly determined their locations. The maximum number of nodules detected by the three observers and confirmed by consensus served as the reference standard. Descriptive statistics were calculated, with P < .05 indicating a significant difference. The Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed rank test and confidence intervals for differences between methods were used to compare the sensitivities of the two methods.

Results: VR performed significantly better than MIP with regard to both detection rate (P < .001) and reporting time (P < .001). The superiority of VR was significant for all three observers and for nodules smaller than 11 mm in diameter and was pronounced for perihilar nodules (P = .023). Sensitivities achieved with VR ranged from 76.5% to 97.3%, depending on nodule size.

Conclusion: VR is the superior reading method compared with MIP for the detection of small solid intrapulmonary nodules.

© RSNA, 2007


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Article History

Published in print: 2007