The aim of this study was to evaluate if a high-resolution photon-counting detector
computed tomography (PCD-CT) system with a 1024×1024 matrix reconstruction can improve the visualization of fine structures in the lungs compared with conventional high-resolution CT (HRCT).
Materials and Methods
Twenty-two adult patients referred for clinical chest HRCT (mean CTDI vol
, 13.58 mGy) underwent additional dose-matched PCD-CT (mean volume CT dose index, 13.37 mGy) after written informed consent. Computed tomography images were reconstructed at a slice thickness of 1.5 mm and an image increment of 1 mm with our routine HRCT reconstruction kernels (B46 and Bv49) at 512 and 1024 matrix sizes for conventional energy-integrating detector (EID) CT scans. For PCD-CT, routine B46 kernel and an additional sharp kernel (Q65, unavailable for EID) images were reconstructed at 1024 matrix size. Two thoracic radiologists compared images from EID and PCD-CT noting the highest level bronchus clearly identified in each lobe of the right lung, and rating bronchial wall conspicuity of third- and fourth-order bronchi
. Lung nodules
were also compared with the B46/EID/512 images using a 5-point Likert scale. Statistical analysis was performed using a Wilcoxon signed rank test with a P
< 0.05 considered significant.
Compared with B46/EID/512, readers detected higher-order bronchi
using B46/PCD/1024 and Q65/PCD/1024 images for every lung lobe (P
< 0.0015), but in only the right middle lobe for B46/EID/1024 (P
= 0.007). Readers were able to better identify bronchial walls of the third- and fourth-order bronchi
better using the Q65/PCD/1024 images (mean Likert scores of 1.1 and 1.5), which was significantly higher compared with B46/EID/1024 or B46/PCD/1024 images (mean difference, 0.8; P
< 0.0001). The Q65/PCD/1024 images had a mean nodule score of 1 ± 1.3 for reader 1, and −0.1 (0.9) for reader 2, with one reader having improved nodule evaluation scores for both PCD kernels (P
< 0.001), and the other reader not identifying any increased advantage over B46/EID/1024 (P
High-resolution lung PCD-CT with 1024 image matrix reconstruction increased radiologists' ability to visualize higher-order bronchi
and bronchial walls without compromising nodule evaluation compared with current chest CT, creating an opportunity for radiologists to better evaluate airway pathology.