Calibration phantom-based prediction of CT lung nodule volume measurement performance

Ricardo S. Avila, Karthik Krishnan, Nancy Obuchowski, Artit Jirapatnakul, Raja Subramaniam, David Yankelevitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: A calibration phantom-based method has been developed for predicting small lung nodule volume measurement bias and precision that is specific to a particular computed tomography (CT) scanner and acquisition protocol. Methods: The approach involves CT scanning a simple reference object with a specific acquisition protocol, analyzing the scan to estimate the fundamental imaging properties of the CT acquisition system, generating numerous simulated images of a target geometry using the fundamental imaging properties, measuring the simulated images with a standard nodule volume segmentation algorithm, and calculating bias and precision performance statistics from the resulting volume measurements. We evaluated the ability of this approach to predict volume measurement bias and precision of Teflon spheres (diameters =4.76, 6.36, and 7.94 mm) placed within an anthropomorphic chest phantom when using 3M Scotch Magic™ tape as the reference object. CT scanning of the spheres was performed with 0.625, 1.25, and 2.5 mm slice thickness and spacing. Results: The study demonstrated good agreement between predicted volumetric performance and observed volume measurement performance for both volumetric measurement bias and precision. The predicted and observed volume mean for all slice thicknesses was found to be 28% and 13% lower on average than the manufactured sphere volume, respectively. When restricted to 0.625 and 1.25 mm slice thickness scans, which are recommended for small lung nodule volume measurement, we found that the difference between predicted and observed volume coefficient of variation was less than 1.0 %. The approach also showed a resilience to varying CT image acquisition protocols, a critical capability when deploying in a real-world clinical setting. Conclusions: This is the first report of a calibration phantom-based method's ability to predict both small lung nodule volume measurement bias and precision. Volume measurement bias and precision for small lung nodules can be predicted using simple low-cost reference objects to estimate fundamental CT image characteristics and modeling and simulation techniques. The approach demonstrates an improved method for predicting task specific, clinically relevant measurement performance using advanced and fully automated image analysis techniques and low-cost reference objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6193-6204
Number of pages12
JournalQuantitative Imaging in Medicine and Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2023


  • Computed tomography image quality (CT image quality)
  • calibration
  • lung nodule
  • quantitative imaging


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