Dynamic contrast–enhanced computed tomography for the diagnosis of solitary pulmonary nodules: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Jonathan R. Weir-McCall, Stella Joyce, Andrew Clegg, James Mackay, Gabrielle Baxter, Lena-Marie Dendl, Robert C. Rintoul, Nagmi Qureshi, Ken Miles, Fiona J. Gilbert

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A systematic review and meta-analysis were performed to determine the diagnostic performance of dynamic contrast–enhanced computed tomography (DCE-CT) for the differentiation between malignant and benign pulmonary nodules.

Ovid MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched for studies published up to October 2018 on the diagnostic accuracy of DCE-CT for the characterisation of pulmonary nodules. For the index test, studies with a minimum of a pre- and post-contrast computed tomography scan were evaluated. Studies with a reference standard of biopsy for malignancy, and biopsy or 2-year follow-up for benign disease were included. Study bias was assessed using QUADAS-2 (Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies). The sensitivities, specificities, and diagnostic odds ratios were determined along with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using a bivariate random effects model.

Twenty-three studies were included, including 2397 study participants with 2514 nodules of which 55.3% were malignant (1389/2514). The pooled accuracy results were sensitivity 94.8% (95% CI 91.5; 96.9), specificity 75.5% (69.4; 80.6), and diagnostic odds ratio 56.6 (24.2–88.9). QUADAS 2 assessment showed intermediate/high risk of bias in a large proportion of the studies (52–78% across the domains). No difference was present in sensitivity or specificity between subgroups when studies were split based on CT technique, sample size, nodule size, or publication date.

DCE-CT has a high diagnostic accuracy for the diagnosis of pulmonary nodules although study quality was indeterminate in a large number of cases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3310–3323
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number6
Early online date15 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Contrast media
  • Lung cancer
  • Meta-analysis
  • Multi-detector computed tomography
  • Solitary pulmonary nodule

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