Purpose: The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the limitations to the effectiveness of CT colonography, colloquially called virtual colonoscopy (VC), for detecting polyps in the colon and to describe a new technique, map projection CT colonography using Mercator projection and stereographic projection, that overcomes these limitations.
Method: In one experiment, data sets from nine patients undergoing CT colonography were analyzed to determine the percentage of the mucosal surface visible in various visualization modes as a function of field of view (FOV). In another experiment, 40 digitally synthesized polyps of various sizes (10, 7, 5, and 3.5 mm) were randomly inserted into four copies of one patient data set. Both Mercator and stereographic projections were used to visualize the surface of the colon of each data set. The sensitivity and positive predictive value (PPV) were calculated and compared with the results of an earlier study of visualization modes using the same CT colonography data.
Results: The percentage of mucosal surface visualized by VC increases with greater FOV but only approaches that of map projection VC (98.8%) at a distorting, very high FOV. For both readers and polyp sizes of ≥7 mm, sensitivity for Mercator projection (87.5%) and stereographic projection (82.5%) was significantly greater (p < 0.05) than for viewing axial slices (62.5%), and Mercator projection was significantly more sensitive than VC (67.5%). Mercator and stereographic projection had PPVs of 75.4 and 78.9%, respectively.
Conclusion: The sensitivity of conventional CT colonography is limited by the percentage of the mucosal surface seen. Map projection CT colonography overcomes this problem and provides a more sensitive method with a high PPV for detecting polyps than other methods currently being investigated.