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Evaluation Of Tumor Measurements In Oncology: Use Of Film-Based And Electronic Techniques

Lawrence H. Schwartz, Michelle S. Ginsberg, Douglas DeCorato, Lawrence N. Rothenberg, Steven Einstein, Peter Kijewski, David M. Panicek

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PURPOSE: To evaluate the variability in bidimensional computed tomography (CT) measurements obtained of actual tumors and of tumor phantoms by use of three measurement techniques: hand-held calipers on film, electronic calipers on a workstation, and an autocontour technique on a workstation. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Three radiologists measured 45 actual tumors (in the lung, liver, and lymph nodes) on CT images, using each of the three techniques. Bidimensional measurements were recorded, and their cross-products calculated. The coefficient of variation was calculated to assess interobserver variability. CT images of 48 phantoms were measured by three radiologists with each of the techniques. In addition to the coefficient of variation, the differences between the cross-product measurements of tumor phantoms themselves and the measurements obtained with each of the techniques were calculated. RESULTS: The differences between the coefficients of variation were statistically significantly different for the autocontour technique, compared with the other techniques, both for actual tumors and for tumor phantoms. There was no statistically significant difference in the coefficient of variation between measurements obtained with hand-held calipers and electronic calipers. The cross-products for tumor phantoms were 12% less than the actual cross-product when calipers on film were used, 11% less using electronic calipers, and 1% greater using the autocontour technique. CONCLUSION: Tumor size is obtained more accurately and consistently between readers using an automated autocontour technique than between those using hand-held or electronic calipers. This finding has substantial implications for monitoring tumor therapy in an individual patient, as well as for evaluating the effectiveness of new therapies under development.