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Gnannt, R; Fischer, M; Goetti, R; Karlo, C; Leschka, S; Alkadhi, H (2012). Dual-energy CT for characterization of the incidental adrenal mass: Preliminary observations. American Journal of Roentgenology, 198(1):138-144.

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The purpose of our study was to evaluate the accuracy of virtual unenhanced images reconstructed from contrast-enhanced dual-energy CT for the differentiation of incidental adrenal masses in comparison with standard unenhanced CT.


One hundred-forty patients (mean age, 74 ± 9 years) underwent unenhanced and contrast-enhanced CT of the abdomen, the latter acquired with dual-energy for reconstruction of virtual unenhanced images. Two blinded and independent readers (R1 and R2) measured attenuation of each incidental adrenal mass on standard unenhanced and virtual unenhanced images using an optimized dual-energy three-material decomposition algorithm.


Fifty-one incidental adrenal masses were found in 42 of 135 patients (31%); 39 incidental adrenal masses were ≥ 1 cm. On the basis of unenhanced CT, 29 of 51 incidental adrenal masses and 22 of 39 incidental adrenal masses ≥ 1 cm were classified as benign (HU < 10). Virtual unenhanced image quality was rated as good or with mild impairment (2.45 ± 0.83 for R1, 2.45 ± 0.99 for R2). Image noise was 12.7 ± 3.6 HU in unenhanced images and 8.8 ± 2.0 HU in virtual unenhanced images (p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in incidental adrenal mass attenuation between unenhanced and virtual unenhanced images for all incidental adrenal masses (5.9 ± 21.0 HU vs 7.0 ± 20.6 HU, p = 0.48) and for those ≥ 1 cm (6.6 ± 18.5 HU vs 7.9 ± 18.3 HU, p = 0.87). Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of virtual unenhanced images for the characterization of incidental adrenal masses as probably benign were 76%, 82%, and 78% for R1 and 79%, 95%, and 86% for R2, respectively. For incidental adrenal masses ≥ 1 cm, sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy increased to 95%, 100%, and 97% for R1 and 91%, 100%, and 95% for R2


Reconstruction of virtual unenhanced images from contrast-enhanced dual-energy CT of the abdomen allows the characterization of the incidental adrenal masses with a good accuracy compared with standard unenhanced CT, with the most favorable results in incidental adrenal masses measuring ≥ 1 cm.


21 citations in Web of Science®
24 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Deposited On:07 Jan 2012 15:38
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:20
Publisher:American Roentgen Ray Society
Publisher DOI:10.2214/AJR.11.6957
PubMed ID:22194489

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