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INTRODUCTION: Dynamic contrast-enhanced CT (DCE-CT) and positron emission tomography/CT (PET/CT) have a high reported accuracy for the diagnosis of malignancy in solitary pulmonary nodules (SPNs). The aim of this study was to compare the accuracy and cost-effectiveness of these. METHODS: In this prospective multicentre trial, 380 participants with an SPN (8-30 mm) and no recent history of malignancy underwent DCE-CT and PET/CT. All patients underwent either biopsy with histological diagnosis or completed CT follow-up. Primary outcome measures were sensitivity, specificity and overall diagnostic accuracy for PET/CT and DCE-CT. Costs and cost-effectiveness were estimated from a healthcare provider perspective using a decision-model. RESULTS: 312 participants (47% female, 68.1±9.0 years) completed the study, with 61% rate of malignancy at 2 years. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive values for DCE-CT were 95.3% (95% CI 91.3 to 97.5), 29.8% (95% CI 22.3 to 38.4), 68.2% (95% CI 62.4% to 73.5%) and 80.0% (95% CI 66.2 to 89.1), respectively, and for PET/CT were 79.1% (95% CI 72.7 to 84.2), 81.8% (95% CI 74.0 to 87.7), 87.3% (95% CI 81.5 to 91.5) and 71.2% (95% CI 63.2 to 78.1). The area under the receiver operator characteristic curve (AUROC) for DCE-CT and PET/CT was 0.62 (95% CI 0.58 to 0.67) and 0.80 (95% CI 0.76 to 0.85), respectively (p<0.001). Combined results significantly increased diagnostic accuracy over PET/CT alone (AUROC=0.90 (95% CI 0.86 to 0.93), p<0.001). DCE-CT was preferred when the willingness to pay per incremental cost per correctly treated malignancy was below £9000. Above £15 500 a combined approach was preferred. CONCLUSIONS: PET/CT has a superior diagnostic accuracy to DCE-CT for the diagnosis of SPNs. Combining both techniques improves the diagnostic accuracy over either test alone and could be cost-effective. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT02013063.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





988 - 996


imaging/CT MRI etc, lung cancer, Humans, Female, Male, Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography, Solitary Pulmonary Nodule, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Prospective Studies, Fluorodeoxyglucose F18, Tomography, X-Ray Computed, Positron-Emission Tomography, Lung Neoplasms, Radiopharmaceuticals, Sensitivity and Specificity