Original Investigation|Articles in Press

Pseudoenhancement in Cystic Renal Lesions – Impact of Virtual Monoenergetic Images of Photon-Counting Detector CT on Lesion Classification

      Rationale and Objectives

      To investigate the impact of virtual monoenergetic images (VMI) from photon-counting detector CT (PCD-CT) on the enhancement and classification of renal cysts.

      Materials and Methods

      Adults with renal cysts (≥7 mm) who received a triphasic examination on a clinical PCD-CT (120 kVp; IQ level 68) between July 2021 and March 2022 were retrospectively identified. Only non-enhancing cysts (enhancement<10 HU between unenhanced and venous phase at 70 keV) were included. VMI from 40 to 190 keV with increments of 10 keV were reconstructed from the venous phase. Enhancement was measured to classify each lesion as non-enhancing (<10 HU), equivocally enhancing (10–19 HU), and definitely enhancing (≥20 HU). Classification changes as a function of VMI were assessed. Pearson correlation coefficient, the Kruskal-Wallis and the Chi-square test were used.


      A total of 86 patients (mean age, 74 ± 9 years; 74 male) with 160 non-enhancing renal cysts (17.6 ± 10 mm) were included. CT attenuation of the cysts increased from higher to lower VMI levels with a mean attenuation of 4 ± 11 HU at 190 keV to 36 ± 17 HU at 40 keV. Mean attenuation of the renal parenchyma was 43 ± 4 HU at 190 keV and 414 ± 71 HU at 40 keV. No cyst exhibited enhancement from 70 keV to 190 keV. At 40, 50, and 60 keV, 35% (56/160), 29% (47/160) and 9% (15/160) of cysts showed equivocal and 46% (74/160), 10% (16/160), and 0% (0/160) definite enhancement, respectively. There was no significant influence of size (P=.13), cyst location (P=.9) and BMI (P=.19) on enhancement classification.


      VMI has a relevant impact on enhancement and classification of renal cysts with misclassification in a large number of cases at energy levels below 70 keV.


      VMI (virtual monoenergetic images), PCD-CT (photon-counting detector CT), CNR (contrast-to-noise ratio), EID-CT (energy-integrating detector CT), TNC (true non-contrast images), ROI (region of interest)

      Key Words

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