Deep Learning–Based Digitally Reconstructed Tomography of the Chest in the Evaluation of Solitary Pulmonary Nodules: A Feasibility Study

Ayis Pyrros, Andrew Chen, Jorge Mario Rodríguez-Fernández, Stephen M. Borstelmann, Patrick A. Cole, Jeanne Horowitz, Jonathan Chung, Paul Nikolaidis, Viveka Boddipalli, Nasir Siddiqui, Melinda Willis, Adam Eugene Flanders, Sanmi Koyejo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Rationale and Objectives: Computed tomography (CT) is preferred for evaluating solitary pulmonary nodules (SPNs) but access or availability may be lacking, in addition, overlapping anatomy can hinder detection of SPNs on chest radiographs. We developed and evaluated the clinical feasibility of a deep learning algorithm to generate digitally reconstructed tomography (DRT) images of the chest from digitally reconstructed frontal and lateral radiographs (DRRs) and use them to detect SPNs. Methods: This single-institution retrospective study included 637 patients with noncontrast helical CT of the chest (mean age 68 years, median age 69 years, standard deviation 11.7 years; 355 women) between 11/2012 and 12/2020, with SPNs measuring 10–30 mm. A deep learning model was trained on 562 patients, validated on 60 patients, and tested on the remaining 15 patients. Diagnostic performance (SPN detection) from planar radiography (DRRs and CT scanograms, PR) alone or with DRT was evaluated by two radiologists in an independent blinded fashion. The quality of the DRT SPN image in terms of nodule size and location, morphology, and opacity was also evaluated, and compared to the ground-truth CT images Results: Diagnostic performance was higher from DRT plus PR than from PR alone (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve 0.95–0.98 versus 0.80–0.85; p < 0.05). DRT plus PR enabled diagnosis of SPNs in 11 more patients than PR alone. Interobserver agreement was 0.82 for DRT plus PR and 0.89 for PR alone; and interobserver agreement for size and location, morphology, and opacity of the DRT SPN was 0.94, 0.68, and 0.38, respectively. Conclusion: For SPN detection, DRT plus PR showed better diagnostic performance than PR alone. Deep learning can be used to generate DRT images and improve detection of SPNs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-748
Number of pages10
JournalAcademic Radiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Machine learning
  • chest radiographs
  • computed tomography
  • digital reconstruction
  • solitary pulmonary nodule
  • synthetic imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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