Detection of focal pulmonary lesions is limited by quantum and anatomic noise and highly influenced by variable perception capacity of the reader. Multiple studies have proven that lesions - missed at time of primary interpretation - were visible on the chest radiographs in retrospect. Computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) schemes do not alter the anatomic noise but aim at decreasing the intrinsic limitations and variations of human perception by alerting the reader to suspicious areas in a chest radiograph when used as a 'second reader'. Multiple studies have shown that the detection performance can be improved using CAD especially for less experienced readers at a variable amount of decreased specificity. There seem to be a substantial learning process for both, experienced and inexperienced readers, to be able to optimally differentiate between false positive and true positive lesions and to build up sufficient trust in the capabilities of these systems to be able to use them at their full advantage. Studies so far focussed on stand-alone performance of the CAD schemes to reveal the magnitude of potential impact or on retrospective evaluation of CAD as a second reader for selected study groups. Further research is needed to assess the performance of these systems in clinical routine and to determine the trade-off between performance increase in terms of increased sensitivity and decreased inter-reader variability and loss of specificity and secondary indicated follow-up examinations for further diagnostic workup.
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