CT lung screening - "make it cheap, keep it effective"
At the annual meeting of the European Society of Thoracic Imaging (ESTI), which took place from June 12 - 14 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Prof. Dr. Bram van Ginneken of Radboud University Nijmegen emphasized the role of the acquisition and reading stage for CT screening programs.
While today's CTs make it very easy to acquire a screening scan - especially when compared to image acquisition for breast, prostate, or colon cancer screening - the reading of the cases is where radiologists need support.
The main factor of reading costs is the time spent by the radiologists. Prof. v. Ginneken pointed out that, in order to reduce cost, computer support will be a major factor.
The addition of CAD algorithms and the automatic integration of prior studies through current image registration methods can reduce reading times dramatically.
Furthermore, automatic nodule detection and characterization address the high inter-observer variability, resulting in better follow-up decisions. Initial results on speed reading experiments show that, even for unexperienced readers, the reading time can be brought below 1 minute with a 70 - 80% accuracy in lesion characterization.
The group of Prof. v. Ginneken will continue its research on this promising approach.
Generally, detecting and judging nodules is time-consuming and not trivial for humans. Software algorithms can help to support in chest CT registration, detection of nodules, volumetry and interpretation.
Prof. v. Ginneken concluded that fast reading seems feasible with optimized computer support - when it is efficient and cheap.