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Background: Limited data are available regarding whether computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) improves assessment of malignancy risk in indeterminate pulmonary nodules (IPNs).

Purpose: To evaluate the effect of an artificial intelligence-based CAD tool on clinician IPN diagnostic performance and agreement for both malignancy risk categories and management recommendations.

Materials and Methods: This was a retrospective multireader multicase study performed in June and July 2020 on chest CT studies of IPNs. Readers used only CT imaging data and provided an estimate of malignancy risk and a management recommendation for each case without and with CAD. The effect of CAD on average reader diagnostic performance was assessed using the Obuchowski-Rockette and Dorfman-Berbaum-Metz method to calculate estimates of area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), sensitivity, and specificity. Multirater Fleiss κ statistics were used to measure interobserver agreement for malignancy risk and management recommendations.

Results: A total of 300 chest CT scans of IPNs with maximal diameters of 5-30 mm (50.0% malignant) were reviewed by 12 readers (six radiologists, six pulmonologists) (patient median age, 65 years; IQR, 59-71 years; 164 [55%] men). Readers' average AUC improved from 0.82 to 0.89 with CAD (P < .001). At malignancy risk thresholds of 5% and 65%, use of CAD improved average sensitivity from 94.1% to 97.9% (P = .01) and from 52.6% to 63.1% (P < .001), respectively. Average reader specificity improved from 37.4% to 42.3% (P = .03) and from 87.3% to 89.9% (P = .05), respectively. Reader interobserver agreement improved with CAD for both the less than 5% (Fleiss κ, 0.50 vs 0.71; P < .001) and more than 65% (Fleiss κ, 0.54 vs 0.71; P < .001) malignancy risk categories. Overall reader interobserver agreement for management recommendation categories (no action, CT surveillance, diagnostic procedure) also improved with CAD (Fleiss κ, 0.44 vs 0.52; P = .001).

Conclusion: Use of computer-aided diagnosis improved estimation of indeterminate pulmonary nodule malignancy risk on chest CT scans and improved interobserver agreement for both risk stratification and management recommendations.

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ePub ahead of print

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