Objectives: To investigate the diagnostic accuracy of collagen-sensitive maps derived from dual-energy computed tomography (DECT) for the detection of lumbar disk pathologies in a feasibility setting.
Materials and methods: We retrospectively reviewed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and DECT datasets acquired in patients who underwent periradicular therapy of the lumbar spine from June to December 2019. Three readers scored DECT collagen maps, conventional CT, and MRI for presence, type, and extent of disk pathology. Contingency table analyses were performed to determine diagnostic accuracy using MRI as standard of reference. Interrater agreement within and between imaging modalities was evaluated by computing intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) and Cohen’s kappa. Correlation between sum scores of anteroposterior disk displacement was determined by calculation of a paired t test.
Results: In 21 disks in 13 patients, DECT had a sensitivity of 0.87 (0.60–0.98) and specificity of 1.00 (0.54–1.00) for the detection of disk pathology. Intermodality agreement for anteroposterior disk displacement was excellent for DECT (ICC 0.963 [0.909–0.985]) and superior to CT (ICC 0.876 [0.691–0.95]). For anteroposterior disk displacement, DECT also showed greater within-modality interrater agreement (ICC 0.820 [0.666–0.916]) compared with CT (ICC 0.624 [0.39–0.808]).
Conclusion: Our data suggest that collagen-sensitive imaging has an added benefit, allowing more accurate evaluation of the extent of disk displacement with higher interrater reliability. Thus, DECT could provide useful diagnostic information in patients undergoing CT for other indications or with contraindications to MRI.