Dual-Energy CT to Differentiate Small Foci of Intracranial Hemorrhage from Calcium.
Background Diagnostic uncertainty in CT of possible intracranial hemorrhage requires short-interval follow-up imaging, resulting in reduced efficiency of care and higher costs. Purpose To quantify the diagnostic performance of dual-energy CT versus simulated single-energy CT in the differentiation of small foci of intracranial hemorrhage from calcium. Materials and Methods Images from consecutive unenhanced dual-energy CT of the head in patients from a single emergency department obtained from December 2014 to April 2016 were reviewed retrospectively for hyperattenuating intracranial foci. Ground truth was established from reference standard comparison CT or MRI. Foci were divided into development and test sets. Development set foci regions of interest were used to derive candidate CT attenuation thresholds for virtual noncalcium (VNCa) and calcium images. Test set foci were used for threshold validation, and diagnostic performance and confidence were evaluated for two readers blinded to final diagnosis. Statistical comparisons were made with exact binomial tests or repeated-measures analysis of variance. Results The study included 137 patients (65 years ± 17; 70 men) with 146 foci. Foci were divided into a development set (n = 105) and a test set (n = 41). Quantitative analysis of the development set produced candidate thresholds of 44 HU for VNCa images and 7 HU for calcium-only images, yielding diagnostic accuracies for the test set of 88% (36 of 41 foci; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 78%, 98%) and 95% (39 of 41 foci; 95% CI: 88%, 100%), respectively. Dual-energy CT improved reader accuracy from 90% (reader 1, 37 of 41 foci; 95% CI: 81%, 99%) and 93% (reader 2, 38 of 41 foci; 95% CI: 85%, 100%) to 100% (both readers, 41 of 41 foci; 95% CI: 100%, 100%). Diagnostic confidence (classifications rated as "certain") increased from 71% (29 of 41 foci; 95% CI: 57%, 85%) to 90% (37 of 41 foci; 95% CI: 81%, 99%) for reader 1 (P = .019) and from 46% (19 of 41 foci; 95% CI: 31%, 62%) to 85% (35 of 41 foci; 95% CI: 75%, 96%) for reader 2 (P = .0001). Conclusion Dual-energy CT showed high diagnostic performance in the differentiation of small foci of intracranial hemorrhage from calcium and improved diagnostic accuracy and confidence in the initial evaluation of suspected hemorrhage. © RSNA, 2019 See also the editorial by Kotsenas in this issue.
Wiggins, WF; Potter, CA; Sodickson, AD
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