Longitudinal volume analysis from computed tomography: Reproducibility using adrenal glands as surrogate tumors

Nicolas D. Prionas, Marijo A. Gillen, John M Boone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This study aims to determine the precision (reproducibility) of volume assessment in routine clinical computed tomography (CT) using adrenal glands as surrogate tumors. Seven patients at our institution were identified retrospectively as having received numerous abdominal CT scans (average 13.1, range 5 to 20). The adrenal glands were used as surrogate tumors, assuming no actual volume change. Left and right adrenal gland volumes were assessed by hand segmentation for each patient scan. Over 1240 regions of interest were outlined in total. The reproducibility, expressed as the coefficient of variation (COV), was used to characterize measurement precision. The average volumes were 5.9 and 4.5 cm 3 for the left and right adrenal gland, respectively, with COVs of 17.8% and 18.9%, respectively. Using one patient′s data (20 scans) as an example surrogate for a spherical tumor, it was calculated that a 13% change in volume (4.2% change in diameter) could be determined with statistical significance at P=0.05. For this case, cursor positioning error in linear measurement of object size, by even 1 pixel on the CT image, corresponded to a significant change in volume (P=0.05). The precision of volume determination was dependent on total volume. Precision improved with increasing object size (r 2 =0.367). Given the small dimensions of the adrenal glands, the ~18% COV is likely to be a high estimate compared to larger tumors. Modern CT scanners working with thinner sections (i.e. <1 mm) are likely to produce better measurement precision. The use of volume measurement to quantify changing tumor size is supported as a more precise metric than linear measurement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-180
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2010


  • Computed tomography
  • reproducibility
  • volumetric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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