Detection of Small Pulmonary Nodules Using Direct Digital Radiography and Picture Archiving and Communication Systems

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PurposeTo evaluate the detection of small pulmonary nodules, in the diameter range of 5.4 to 15 mm, using direct digital chest imaging and soft copy interpretation on picture archiving and communication systems.Materials and MethodsThe results of clinical computed tomography (CT) scans of the thorax were retrospectively reviewed from our radiology information system and picture archiving and communication systems archives. Patients with CT studies containing between 1 and 6 nodules, who also had a digital chest examination within 1 month of the CT scan were selected. Thirty patients with suitable nodules and 30 without nodules were included and form the data base for this study. The nodules were between 5.4 and 15 mm in average diameter. Four separate observers independently viewed the frontal and lateral chest studies of the 60 patients. The presence or absence of nodules was determined. Data were analyzed with Kappa, McNemar and Fischer exact tests for agreement and differences between observers, nodule size, and nodule zone.ResultsA total of 42 nodules between 5.4 and 15 mm were present. The overall detection rate for the 4 observers was 41.7%. For nodules between 5.4 and 8 mm the detection rate was 26.2%. Agreement between observer's detection was poor to moderate. Differences between observers for both nodule size and zone were not significant. Only 1 observer had a relationship between nodule detection and nodule size.ConclusionsObserver detection of pulmonary nodules in the range of 5 to 15 mm using current digital radiography systems is not reliable in the confusing environment of the lung. Additional modification of these systems is required to increase nodule conspicuity.

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