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In Investigative radiology ; h5-index 46.0

OBJECTIVE : The aim of this study was to evaluate the image quality (IQ) and performance of an artificial intelligence (AI)-based computer-aided detection (CAD) system in photon-counting detector computed tomography (PCD-CT) for pulmonary nodule evaluation at different low-dose levels.

MATERIALS AND METHODS : An anthropomorphic chest-phantom containing 14 pulmonary nodules of different sizes (range, 3-12 mm) was imaged on a PCD-CT and on a conventional energy-integrating detector CT (EID-CT). Scans were performed with each of the 3 vendor-specific scanning modes (QuantumPlus [Q+], Quantum [Q], and High Resolution [HR]) at decreasing matched radiation dose levels (volume computed tomography dose index ranging from 1.79 to 0.31 mGy) by adapting IQ levels from 30 to 5. Image noise was measured manually in the chest wall at 8 different locations. Subjective IQ was evaluated by 2 readers in consensus. Nodule detection and volumetry were performed using a commercially available AI-CAD system.

RESULTS : Subjective IQ was superior in PCD-CT compared with EID-CT (P < 0.001), and objective image noise was similar in the Q+ and Q-mode (P > 0.05) and superior in the HR-mode (PCD 55.8 ± 11.7 HU vs EID 74.8 ± 5.4 HU; P = 0.01). High resolution showed the lowest image noise values among PCD modes (P = 0.01). Overall, the AI-CAD system delivered comparable results for lung nodule detection and volumetry between PCD- and dose-matched EID-CT (P = 0.08-1.00), with a mean sensitivity of 95% for PCD-CT and of 86% for dose-matched EID-CT in the lowest evaluated dose level (IQ5). Q+ and Q-mode showed higher false-positive rates than EID-CT at lower-dose levels (IQ10 and IQ5). The HR-mode showed a sensitivity of 100% with a false-positive rate of 1 even at the lowest evaluated dose level (IQ5; CDTIvol, 0.41 mGy).

CONCLUSIONS : Photon-counting detector CT was superior to dose-matched EID-CT in subjective IQ while showing comparable to lower objective image noise. Fully automatized AI-aided nodule detection and volumetry are feasible in PCD-CT, but attention has to be paid to false-positive findings.

Jungblut Lisa, Blüthgen Christian, Polacin Malgorzata, Messerli Michael, Schmidt Bernhard, Euler Andre, Alkadhi Hatem, Frauenfelder Thomas, Martini Katharina