Proposal to utilize simplified Swensen protocol in diagnosis of isolated pulmonary nodule
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Background: The problem of diagnosing whether a solitary pulmonary nodule is benign or malignant is even greater in developing countries due to a higher prevalence of infectious diseases. These infections generate a large number of patients who are generally asymptomatic and with a pulmonary nodule that cannot be accurately defined as having benign or malignant etiology.Purpose: To verify the percentages of benign versus malignant non-calcified nodules, the length of time after contrast agent injection is spiral computed tomography (CT) most sensitive and specific, and whether three postcontrast phases are necessary.Material and Methods: We studied 23 patients with solitary pulmonary nodules identified on chest radiographs or CT. Spiral scans were obtained with Swensen protocol, but at 3, 4, and 5 min after contrast injection onset. Nodules were classified as benign or malignant by histopathological examination or by an absence or presence of growth after 2 years of follow-up CT.Results: Of the 23 patients studied, 18 (78.2%) showed a final diagnosis of benign and five (21.7%) malignant nodules. Despite the small sample size, we obtained results similar to those of Swensen et al., with 80.0% sensitivity, 55.5% specificity, and 60.8% accuracy. Four minutes gave the greatest mean enhancement in both malignant and benign lesions.Conclusion: Small non-calcified benign nodules were much more frequent than malignant nodules. The best time for dynamic contrast-enhanced CT density analysis was 4 min postcontrast. As well as saving time and money, this simplified Swensen protocol with only precontrast and 4 min postcontrast phases also reduces patient exposure to ionizing radiation.
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