Dual-energy CT based vascular iodine analysis improves sensitivity for peripheral pulmonary artery thrombus detection: an experimental study in canines

Chun Xiang Tang, Long Jiang Zhang, Zong Hong Han, Chang Sheng Zhou, Aleksander W Krazinski, Justin R Silverman, U Joseph Schoepf, Guang Ming Lu
European Journal of Radiology 2013, 82 (12): 2270-8

PURPOSE: To evaluate the performance of dual-energy CT (DECT) based vascular iodine analysis for the detection of acute peripheral pulmonary thrombus (PE) in a canine model with histopathological findings as the reference standard.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study protocol was approved by our institutional animal committee. Thrombi (n = 12) or saline (n = 4) were intravenously injected via right femoral vein in sixteen dogs, respectively. CT pulmonary angiography (CTPA) in DECT mode was performed and conventional CTPA images and DECT based vascular iodine studies using Lung Vessels application were reconstructed. Two radiologists visually evaluated the number and location of PEs using conventional CTPA and DECT series on a per-animal and a per-clot basis. Detailed histopathological examination of lung specimens and catheter angiography served as reference standard. Sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) of DECT and CTPA were calculated on a segmental and subsegmental or more distal pulmonary artery basis. Weighted κ values were computed to evaluate inter-modality and inter-reader agreement.

RESULTS: Thirteen dogs were enrolled for final image analysis (experimental group = 9, control group = 4). Histopathological results revealed 237 emboli in 45 lung lobes in 9 experimental dogs, 11 emboli in segmental pulmonary arteries, 49 in subsegmental pulmonary arteries, 177 in fifth-order or more distal pulmonary arteries. Overall sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, PPV, and NPV for CTPA plus DECT were 93.1%, 76.9%, 87.8%, 89.4%, and 84.2% for the detection of pulmonary emboli. With CTPA versus DECT, sensitivities, specificities, accuracies, PPVs, and NPVs are all 100% for the detection of pulmonary emboli on a segmental pulmonary artery basis, 88.9%, 100%, 96.0%, 100%, and 94.1% for CTPA and 90.4%, 93.0%, 92.0%, 88.7%, and 94.1% for DECT on a subsegmental pulmonary artery basis; 23.8%, 96.4%, 50.4%, 93.5%, and 36.7% for CTPA and 95.9%, 75.5%, 88.2%, 86.5%, and 91.9% on a sub-subsegmental and more distal pulmonary artery basis, respectively. Good inter-modality (κ = 0.65, P<0.001) and inter-reader (κ = 0.70, P<0.001) agreement were observed.

CONCLUSION: With histopathological findings as the reference standard, DECT based vascular iodine analysis improves the sensitivity for detecting peripheral PE compared with CTPA, albeit at the price of decreased specificity and PPV.

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