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Comparative Accuracy and Cost-Effectiveness of Dynamic Contrast Enhanced Computed Tomography and Positron Emission Tomography in the Characterisation of Solitary Pulmonary Nodules

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Fiona J. Gilbert, S Harris, Ken Miles, J Weir-McCall, N Qureshi, R Rintoul, S Dizdarevic, Lucy Pike

Original languageEnglish
Accepted/In pressOct 2021


King's Authors


Dynamic contrast-enhanced computed tomography (DCE-CT) and Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) have a high reported accuracy for the diagnosis of malignancy in solitary pulmonary nodules. The aim of this study was to compare the accuracy and cost-effectiveness of these.
In this prospective multicentre trial, 380 participants with a solitary pulmonary nodule (8-30mm) and no recent history of malignancy underwent DCE-CT and PET/CT. All patients underwent either biopsy with histological diagnosis or completed CT follow-up. Primary outcome measures were sensitivity, specificity, and overall diagnostic accuracy for PET/CT and DCE-CT. Costs and cost-effectiveness were estimated from a healthcare provider perspective using a decision-model.
312 participants (47% female, 68.1±9.0 years) completed the study, with 61% rate of malignancy at 2 years. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive values for DCE-CT were 95.3% [95% CI 91.3;97.5], 29.8% [95% CI 22.3;38.4], 68.2% [95% CI 62.4%;73.5%] and 80.0% [95% CI 66.2;89.1] respectively, and for PET/CT were 79.1% [95% CI 72.7;84.2], 81.8% [95% CI 74.0;87.7], 87.3%[95% CI 81.5;91.5) and 71·2%
[95% CI 63.2;78.1]. The area under the receiver operator characteristic curve (AUROC) for DCE-CT and PET/CT was 0.62 [95%CI 0.58;0.67] and 0.80 [95%CI 0.76;0.85] respectively (p<0.001). Combined results significantly increased diagnostic accuracy over PET/CT alone (AUROC=0.90 [95%CI 0.86;0.93], p<0.001). DCE-CT was preferred when the willingness to pay per incremental cost per correctly treated malignancy was below £9000. Above £15500 a combined approach was preferred.
PET/CT has a superior diagnostic accuracy to DCE-CT for the diagnosis of solitary pulmonary nodules. Combining both techniques improves the diagnostic accuracy over either test alone and could be cost-effective. (Clinical - NCT02013063).

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