Dual-Energy CT Material Decomposition: The Value in the Detection of Lymph Node Metastasis from Breast Cancer

Ibrahim Yel*, Tommaso D’Angelo, Leon D. Gruenewald, Vitali Koch, Rejane Golbach, Scherwin Mahmoudi, Giorgio Ascenti, Alfredo Blandino, Thomas J. Vogl, Christian Booz, Giuseppe M. Bucolo

*Corresponding author for this work

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Purpose: To evaluate the diagnostic performance of a dual-energy computed tomography (DECT)-based material decomposition algorithm for iodine quantification and fat fraction analysis to detect lymph node metastases in breast cancer patients. Materials and Methods: 30 female patients (mean age, 63.12 ± 14.2 years) diagnosed with breast cancer who underwent pre-operative chest DECT were included. To establish a reference standard, the study correlated histologic repots after lymphadenectomy or confirming metastasis in previous/follow-up examinations. Iodine concentration and fat fraction were determined through region-of-interest measurements on venous DECT iodine maps. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis was conducted to identify the optimal threshold for differentiating between metastatic and non-metastatic lymph nodes. Results: A total of 168 lymph nodes were evaluated, divided into axillary (metastatic: 46, normal: 101) and intramammary (metastatic: 10, normal: 11). DECT-based fat fraction values exhibited significant differences between metastatic (9.56 ± 6.20%) and non-metastatic lymph nodes (41.52 ± 19.97%) (p < 0.0001). Absolute iodine concentrations showed no significant differences (2.25 ± 0.97 mg/mL vs. 2.08 ± 0.97 mg/mL) (p = 0.7999). The optimal fat fraction threshold for diagnosing metastatic lymph nodes was determined to be 17.75%, offering a sensitivity of 98% and a specificity of 94%. Conclusions: DECT fat fraction analysis emerges as a promising method for identifying metastatic lymph nodes, overcoming the morpho-volumetric limitations of conventional CT regarding lymph node assessment. This innovative approach holds potential for improving pre-operative lymph node evaluation in breast cancer patients, offering enhanced diagnostic accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number466
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

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