For the assessment of solitary pulmonary nodules (SPNs), a chest computed tomography (CT) is often performed as a combination of a nonenhanced and an enhanced scan. A nonenhanced scan is used for the detection of calcification in the SPN or lymph node, as the presence of calcification is one of the important determinants of benignity. An enhanced scan is informative in providing the degree and pattern of enhancement. In particular, the degree of enhancement of an SPN after iodine injection has been shown to be helpful in distinguishing malignant from benign nodules. Recently introduced dual-energy applications of dual-source CT simultaneously provide a virtual nonenhanced and an iodine-enhanced image from a single scan, after the administration of iodine contrast material. Therefore, a single enhanced dual-energy CT scan allows both measurement of the degree of enhancement and detection of calcifications. It may reduce radiation exposure to patients by avoiding baseline nonenhanced scans and may also reduce measurement error due to different regions of interest during the subtraction of a nonenhanced image from an enhanced image. This technique may have applications in contrast-enhanced dynamic CT and perfusion CT for the differentiation between benign and malignant lesions and the assessment of tumor angiogenesis. In this review article, we sought to address the usefulness of dual-energy CT for the assessment of SPN. In addition, we briefly review the physical principles of dual-energy CT and discuss potential future applications in patients with lung nodules.
*Department of Radiology, Research Institute of Radiology, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
†Siemens Medical Solutions, Siemensstrasse, Forchheim, Germany
This study was supported by a grant from the Korean Health 21 R&D Project, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea (A084305). Reprints: Jae-Woo Song, MD, PhD, Department of Radiology, Research Institute of Radiology, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical Center, 388-1, Pungnap-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul 138-736, Korea (e-mail: email@example.com).