A comparison of six software packages for evaluation of solid lung nodules using semi-automated volumetry: what is the minimum increase in size to detect growth in repeated CT examinations

B. de Hoop, H. Gietema, B. van Ginneken, P. Zanen, G. Groenewegen and M. Prokop

European Radiology 2009;19(4):800-808.

DOI PMID Cited by ~159

We compared interexamination variability of CT lung nodule volumetry with six currently available semi-automated software packages to determine the minimum change needed to detect the growth of solid lung nodules. We had ethics committee approval. To simulate a follow-up examination with zero growth, we performed two low-dose unenhanced CT scans in 20 patients referred for pulmonary metastases. Between examinations, patients got off and on the table. Volumes of all pulmonary nodules were determined on both examinations using six nodule evaluation software packages. Variability (upper limit of the 95\% confidence interval of the Bland-Altman plot) was calculated for nodules for which segmentation was visually rated as adequate. We evaluated 214 nodules (mean diameter 10.9 mm, range 3.3 mm-30.0 mm). Software packages provided adequate segmentation in 71\% to 86\% of nodules (p < 0.001). In case of adequate segmentation, variability in volumetry between scans ranged from 16.4\% to 22.3\% for the various software packages. Variability with five to six software packages was significantly less for nodules >or=8 mm in diameter (range 12.9\%-17.1\%) than for nodules <8 mm (range 18.5\%-25.6\%). Segmented volumes of each package were compared to each of the other packages. Systematic volume differences were detected in 11/15 comparisons. This hampers comparison of nodule volumes between software packages.