BACKGROUND. Ultra-high-resolution CT (UHRCT) allows acquisition using a small detector element size, in turn allowing very high spatial resolutions. The high resolution may reduce partial-volume averaging and thereby renal cyst pseudoenhancement. OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this article was to assess the impact of UHRCT on renal cyst pseudoenhancement. METHODS. A phantom was constructed that contained 7-, 15-, and 25-mm simulated cysts within compartments simulating unenhanced and nephrographic phase renal parenchyma. The phantom underwent two UHRCT acquisitions using 0.25- and 0.5-mm detector elements, with reconstruction at varying matrices and slice thicknesses. A retrospective study was performed of 36 patients (24 men, 12 women; mean age, 75.7 ± 9.4 [SD] years) with 118 renal cysts who underwent renal-mass protocol CT using UHRCT and the 0.25-mm detector element, with reconstruction at varying matrices and slice thicknesses; detector element size could not be retrospectively adjusted. ROIs were placed to measure cysts’ attenuation increase from unenhanced to nephrographic phases (to reflect pseudoenhancement) and SD of unenhanced phase attenuation (to reflect image noise). RESULTS. In the phantom, attenuation increase was lower for the 0.25- than 0.5-mm detector element for the 15-mm cyst (4.6 ± 2.7 HU vs 6.8 ± 2.9 HU, p = .03) and 25-mm cyst (2.3 ± 1.4 HU vs 3.8 ± 1.2 HU, p = .02), but not the 7-mm cyst (p = .72). Attenuation increase was not different between 512 × 512 and 1024 × 1024 matrices for any cyst size in the phantom or patients (p > .05). Attenuation increase was not associated with slice thickness for any cyst size in the phantom or in patients for cysts that were between 5 mm and less than 10 mm and those that were 10 mm and larger (p > .05). For cysts smaller than 5 mm in patients, attenuation increase showed decreases with thinner slices, though there was no significant difference between 0.5-mm and 0.25-mm (3-mm slice: 23.7 ± 22.5 HU; 2-mm slice: 20.2 ± 22.7 HU; 0.5-mm slice: 11.6 ± 17.5 HU; 0.25-mm slice: 12.6 ± 19.7 HU; p < .001). Smaller detector element size, increased matrix size, and thinner slices all increased image noise for cysts of all sizes in the phantom and patients (p < .05). CONCLUSION. UHRCT may reduce renal cyst pseudoenhancement through a smaller detector element size and, for cysts smaller than 5 mm, very thin slices; however, these adjustments result in increased noise. CLINICAL IMPACT. Although requiring further clinical evaluation, UHRCT may facilitate characterization of small cystic renal lesions, thereby reducing equivocal interpretations and follow-up recommendations.
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