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Technical Parameters and Interpretive Issues in Screening Computed Tomography Scans for Lung Cancer

Donnelly, Edwin F. MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/RTI.0b013e3182568019
Symposium

Lung cancer screening computed tomographies (CTs) differ from traditional chest CT scans in that they are performed at very low radiation doses, which allow the detection of small nodules but which have a much higher noise content than would be acceptable in a diagnostic chest CT. The technical parameters require a great deal of attention on the part of the user, because inappropriate settings could result in either excess radiation dose to the large population of screened individuals or in low-quality images with impaired nodule detectability. Both situations undermine the main goal of the screening program, which is to detect lung nodules using as low a radiation dose as can reasonably be achieved. Once an image has been obtained, there are unique interpretive issues that must be addressed mainly because of the very high noise content of the images and the high prevalence of incidental findings in the chest unrelated to the sought-after pulmonary nodules.

Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN

The author declares no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Edwin F. Donnelly, MD, PhD, Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 1161 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37232-2675 (e-mail: edwin.donnelly@vanderbilt.edu).

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.