Solitary pulmonary nodules: comparison of classification with standard, thin-section, and reference phantom CT
Standard, thin-section, and reference phantom computed tomography (CT) were performed to evaluate 75 consecutive patients with solitary pulmonary nodules. Follow-up was available for 62 nodules in 59 patients; 53 of the nodules were benign and nine were malignant. Twenty-one of the 62 nodules were assessed as benign with thin-section CT, while 33 of the 62 nodules were assessed as benign with reference phantom CT. Two of the nodules classified as benign with both thin-section and reference phantom CT proved to be malignant (a peripheral, ossified carcinoid and a 3.5-cm-diameter calcified carcinoma). The sensitivity of reference phantom CT (58%) for classification of benign nodules was higher than the sensitivity of thin-section CT (36%). The sensitivity of standard CT was lowest (12%). The presence of fat at thin-section CT was a reliable criterion for benignancy in six hamartomas. While both thin-section and reference phantom CT were useful in the identification of benign pulmonary nodules, reference phantom CT increased sensitivity by 22% compared with thin-section CT.