Analysis of the density of pleural fluid analogs by computed tomography.
A noninvasive method for differentiating transudative and exudative pleural effusions could make thoracentesis unnecessary in many cases. Since computed tomography (CT) can be used to measure tissue densities, it has a potential use in assessing density of intrathoracic fluid. This study was performed to test this possibility. Plastic syringes containing water, saline, and three saline-albumin solutions with densities up to 1.021 g/cc were scanned individually in air, in a chest phantom, and in a dog thorax during apnea. We found significant positive correlations between specific gravity and CT density; coefficients ranged from 0.85 to 0.99. Regression lines for the different test conditions were not statistically different. However, CT number variability, as indicated by the average standard deviation (SD), did differ for the test conditions: 1) Syringes alone, average SD was 3.8 HU; 2) chest phantom, average SD was 5.5 HU adjacent to rib and 5.8 HU anterior to vertebral column; 3) dog chest average SD was 19.2 HU with heart motion and 9.4 HU without heart motion. These results suggest that heart motion is a major factor in CT number variability in vivo, and that differentiation of transudates from exudates is not possible with current CT methods.
Vock, P; Effmann, EL; Hedlund, LW; Lischko, MM; Putman, CE
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