Background: Recently, a number of studies have advocated the diagnostic benefit of contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CECT) in the current ultrasound (US)-based preoperative evaluation of thyroid cancer. However, no study has been conducted to optimize a CECT protocol focusing on tumor conspicuity using a multi-detector CT scanner. This study aimed at determining the optimal scan delay for increased CT attenuation differences between thyroid cancer and parenchymal background using a biphasic CECT examination. Methods: This study retrospectively enrolled 84 patients (M:F = 7:77; Mage = 44.8 ± 10.9 years) with 87 papillary thyroid carcinomas (Msize = 14.1 mm) who consecutively underwent US and CECT examination prior to surgery. In each patient, CT scanning was taken twice - once with a 40-second delay and once with a 70-second delay - using a 64-channel multi-detector scanner. After obtaining the mean attenuation value (MAV) of the thyroid cancer and the ipsilateral parenchyma by drawing regions of interest on the CECT images based on their cytopathologic results and US findings, the parenchyma-cancer differences (PCD) between the early and delayed scans were simply compared using a paired t-test. Then, the mean differences in the MAVs of the thyroid cancer and ipsilateral parenchyma (hereafter abbreviated as Group) between the early and delayed scans (abbreviated as Time) were compared after adjusting for the other factors that significantly affected MAVs, such as concentration of iodinated contrast medium (abbreviated as CCM) and size of thyroid cancer (abbreviated as Size) using a repeated-measures general linear model. Results: Because the ipsilateral parenchyma exhibited significantly higher attenuation on the early scan and further decline on the delayed scan compared with thyroid cancer (p < 0.001), the PCD for thyroid cancer was significantly better with a 40-second scan delay than a 70-second delay (58.8 ± 36.6 Hounsfield units [HU] vs. 40.4 ± 25.6 HU; p < 0.001). Similar results were obtained from the repeated-measures general linear model that considered the effects of CCM, Size, Group, and Time, and the interaction of Group and Time. Conclusion: Based on this CECT study that adjusted for the effects of CCM and size on MAV, early scans (e.g., 40-second scan delay) are helpful for improving the tumor conspicuity of thyroid cancer on CECT images.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism