Larisa Gorenstein, Amir Onn, Michael Green, Arnaldo Mayer, Shlomo Segev, Edith Michelle Marom
Acad Radiol . 2023 Apr 3;S1076-6332(23)00093-4. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2023.02.019. Online ahead of print.
Rationale and objectives: To assess ultra-low-dose (ULD) computed tomography as well as a novel artificial intelligence-based reconstruction denoising method for ULD (dULD) in screening for lung cancer.
Materials and methods: This prospective study included 123 patients, 84 (70.6%) men, mean age 62.6 ± 5.35 (55-75), who had a low dose and an ULD scan. A fully convolutional-network, trained using a unique perceptual loss was used for denoising. The network used for the extraction of the perceptual features was trained in an unsupervised manner on the data itself by denoising stacked auto-encoders. The perceptual features were a combination of feature maps taken from different layers of the network, instead of using a single layer for training. Two readers independently reviewed all sets of images.
Results: ULD decreased average radiation-dose by 76% (48%-85%). When comparing negative and actionable Lung-RADS categories, there was no difference between dULD and LD (p = 0.22 RE, p > 0.999 RR) nor between ULD and LD scans (p = 0.75 RE, p > 0.999 RR). ULD negative likelihood ratio (LR) for the readers was 0.033-0.097. dULD performed better with a negative LR of 0.021-0.051. Coronary artery calcifications (CAC) were documented on the dULD scan in 88(74%) and 81(68%) patients, and on the ULD in 74(62.2%) and 77(64.7%) patients. The dULD demonstrated high sensitivity, 93.9%-97.6%, with an accuracy of 91.7%. An almost perfect agreement between readers was noted for CAC scores: for LD (ICC = 0.924), dULD (ICC = 0.903), and for ULD (ICC = 0.817) scans.
Conclusion: A novel AI-based denoising method allows a substantial decrease in radiation dose, without misinterpretation of actionable pulmonary nodules or life-threatening findings such as aortic aneurysms.