CT evaluation of solitary pulmonary nodules: Value of 185-H reference phantom

S. J. Swensen, G. F. Harms, R. L. Morin, J. L. Myers

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The pulmonary nodule CT reference phantom is widely used in the evaluation of nodules 2 cm or less in diameter. It is used to detect benign patterns of calcification that are not visible on thin-section CT scans. Since 1986, the reference nodules have been manufactured with a nominal composition of 185 H. The multicenter study published in 1986 used nodules with a nominal composition of 264 H, 100 H more than the threshold value reported by Sieglman et al. in 1980. In the multicenter study, one of 37 nodules diagnosed as benign with the phantom proved to be malignant. The purpose of this study was to determine the misdiagnosis rate with the 185-H phantom and to ascertain whether the malignant tumors predicted to be benign actually contained calcification. We retrospectively reviewed 296 cases in which examinations had been performed with the 185-H nodules since 1986. Eighty-five nodules were diagnosed as benign by comparison to the reference phantom. These 85 contained no visible calcification on thin-section CT scans. Ten of the 85 cases were shown to be malignant tumors. Eight were diagnosed as having a high probability of benignity. Two were diagnosed as having a moderate probability of benignity. Calcium was present in the tissue of all six nodules available for review. Fifty-nine of the 85 nodules were still clinically indeterminate at the time of this review. Even if all of the clinically indeterminate nodules are benign, the misdiagnosis rate would be significantly higher than in most previous studies. Although analysis by using the reference phantom with 185-H nodules may indicate a high probability of benignity, close radiologic follow-up is necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)925-929
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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