Effect of Ultra-High Resolution CT on Pseudoenhancement in Renal Cysts: A Phantom Experiment and Clinical Study
Abstract: Background: Ultra-high resolution CT (U-HRCT) allows acquisition using a small detector element size, in turn allowing very high spatial resolutions. The high resolution may reduce partial-volume averaging and thereby renal cyst pseudoenhancement. Objective: To assess the impact of U-HRCT on renal cyst pseudoenhancement. Methods: A phantom was constructed that contained 7-, 15-, and 25-mm simulated cysts within compartments simulating unenhanced and nephrographic-phase renal parenchyma. The phantom underwent two U-HRCT acquisitions using 0.25- and 0.5-mm detector elements, with reconstruction at varying matrices and slice thicknesses. A retrospective study was performed of 36 patients (24 men, 12 women; mean age, 75.7±9.4 years) with 118 renal cysts who underwent renal-mass protocol CT using U-HRCT and the 0.25-mm detector element, with reconstruction at varying matrices and slice thicknesses; detector element size could not be retrospectively adjusted. ROIs were placed to measure cysts' attenuation increase from unenhanced to nephrographic phases (to reflect pseudoenhancement), and SD of unenhanced-phase attenuation (to reflect image noise). Results: In the phantom, attenuation increase was lower for the 0.25 mm than 0.5 mm detector element for the 15-mm cyst (4.6±2.7 HU vs 6.8±2.9 HU, p=.03) and 25-mm cyst (2.3±1.4 HU vs 3.8±1.2 HU, p=.02), but not the 7-mm cyst (p=.72). Attenuation increase was not different between 512×512 and 1024×1024 matrices for any cyst size in the phantom or patients (p>.05). Attenuation increase was not associated with slice thickness for any cyst size in the phantom or for ≥5-to-.05). For cysts <5 mm in patients, attenuation increase showed decreases with thinner slices (3 mm: 23.7±22.5, 2 mm: 20.2±22.7 HU, 0.5 mm: 11.6±17.5 HU, 0.25 mm: 12.6±19.7 HU; p<.001). Smaller detector element size, increased matrix size, and thinner slices all increased image noise for cysts of all sizes in the phantom and patients (p<.05). Conclusion: U-HRCT may reduce renal cyst pseudoenhancement through a smaller detector element size and, for <5 mm cysts, very thin slices; however, these adjustments result in increased noise. Clinical Impact: Although requiring further clinical evaluation, U-HRCT may facilitate characterization of small cystic renal lesions, thereby reducing equivocal interpretations and follow-up recommendations.
Keywords: phantom / detector element / cyst pseudoenhancement / resolution / renal / image noise
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