OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical impact of a higher spatial resolution, full field-of-view investigational photon-counting detector computed tomography (PCD-CT) on radiologist confidence in imaging findings and diagnosis of usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) compared with conventional energy-integrating detector CT (EID-CT). MATERIALS AND METHODS: Patients suspected of interstitial lung disease were scanned on a PCD-CT system after informed consent and a clinically indicated EID-CT. In 2 sessions, 3 thoracic radiologists blinded to clinical history and scanner type evaluated CT images of the right and left lungs separately on EID- or PCD-CT, reviewing each lung once/session, rating confidence in imaging findings of reticulation, traction bronchiectasis, honeycombing, ground-glass opacities (GGOs), mosaic pattern, and lower lobe predominance (100-point scale: 0-33, likely absent; 34-66, indeterminate; 67-100, likely present). Radiologists also rated confidence for the probability of UIP (0-20, normal; 21-40, inconsistent with UIP; 41-60, indeterminate UIP; 61-81; probable UIP; 81-100, definite UIP) and graded image quality. Because a confidence scale of 50 represented completely equivocal findings, magnitude score (the absolute value of confidence scores from 50) was used for analysis (higher scores were more confident). Image noise was measured for each modality. The magnitude score was compared using linear mixed effects regression. The consistency of findings and diagnosis between 2 scanners were evaluated using McNemar test and weighted κ statistics, respectively. RESULTS: A total of 30 patients (mean age, 68.8 ± 11.0 years; M:F = 18:12) underwent conventional EID-CT (median CTDI vol , 7.88 mGy) and research PCD-CT (median CTDI vol , 6.49 mGy). The magnitude scores in PCD-CT were significantly higher than EID-CT for imaging findings of reticulation (40.7 vs 38.3; P = 0.023), GGO (34.4 vs 31.7; P = 0.019), and mosaic pattern (38.6 vs 35.9; P = 0.013), but not for other imaging findings ( P ≥ 0.130) or confidence in UIP (34.1 vs 22.2; P < 0.059). Magnitude score of probability of UIP in PCD-CT was significantly higher than EID-CT in one reader (26.0 vs 21.5; P = 0.009). Photon-counting detector CT demonstrated a decreased number of indeterminate GGO (17 vs 26), an increased number of unlikely GGO (74 vs 50), and an increased number of likely reticulations (140 vs 130) relative to EID-CT. Interobserver agreements among 3 readers for imaging findings and probability of UIP were similar between PCD-CT and EID-CT (intraclass coefficient: 0.507-0.818 vs 0.601-0.848). Photon-counting detector CT had higher scores in overall image quality (4.84 ± 0.38) than those in EID-CT (4.02 ± 0.40; P < 0.001) despite increased image noise (mean 85.5 vs 36.1 HU). CONCLUSIONS: Photon-counting detector CT provided better image quality and improved the reader confidence for presence or absence of imaging findings of reticulation, GGO, and mosaic pattern with idiosyncratic improvement in confidence in UIP presence.
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