The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of virtual monoenergetic image (VMI) energies and iodine maps on the diagnosis of pleural-empyema with photon-counting-detector computed-tomography (PCD-CT).
MATERIALS AND METHODS
In this IRB-approved retrospective study, consecutive patients with non-infectious pleural effusion or histopathology-proven empyema were included. PCD-CT examinations were performed on a dual-source PCD-CT in the multi-energy (QuantumPlus) mode at 120 kV with weight-adjusted intravenous contrast-agent. VMIs from 40-70 keV obtained in 10 keV intervals and an iodine map was reconstructed for each scan. CT-attenuation was measured in the aorta, the pleura and the peripleural fat (between autochthonous dorsal muscles and dorsal ribs). Contrast-to-noise (CNR) and signal-to-noise (SNR) ratios were calculated. Two blinded radiologists evaluated if empyema was present (yes/no), and rated diagnostic confidence (1 to 4; not confident to fully confident, respectively) with and without using the iodine map. Sensitivity, specificity and diagnostic confidence were estimated. Interobserver agreement was estimated using an unweighted Cohen kappa test. A one-way ANOVA was used to compare variables. Differences in sensitivity and specificity between the different levels of energy were searched using McNemar test. To compare AUC values DeLong test was performed. McNemar test was performed to compare values for sensitivity and specificity.
Sixty patients (median age, 60 years; 26 women) were included. A strong negative correlation was found between image noise and VMI energies (r = -0.98; P = 0.001) and CNR increased with lower VMI energies (r = -0.98; P = 0.002). Diagnostic accuracy (96%; 95% CI: 82-100) as well as diagnostic confidence (3.4 ± 0.75 [SD]) were highest at 40 keV. Diagnostic accuracy and confidence at higher VMI energies improved with the addition of iodine maps (P ≤0.001). Overall, no difference in CT attenuation of peripleural fat between patients with empyema and those with pleural effusion was found (P = 0.07).
Low VMI energies lead to a higher diagnostic accuracy and diagnostic confidence in the diagnosis of pleural empyema. Iodine maps help in diagnosing empyema only at high VMI energies.