A pattern classification approach to characterizing solitary pulmonary nodules imaged on high resolution CT: Preliminary results

Michael F. McNitt-Gray*, Eric M. Hart, Nathaniel Wyckoff, James W. Sayre, Jonathan G. Goldin, Denise R. Aberle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


The purpose of this research is to characterize solitary pulmonary nodules as benign or malignant based on quantitative measures extracted from high resolution CT (HRCT) images. High resolution CT images of 31 patients with solitary pulmonary nodules and definitive diagnoses were obtained. The diagnoses of these 31 cases (14 benign and 17 malignant) were determined from either radiologic follow-up or pathological specimens. Software tools were developed to perform the classification task. On the HRCT images, solitary nodules were identified using semiautomated contouring techniques. From the resulting contours, several quantitative measures were extracted related to each nodule's size, shape, attenuation, distribution of attenuation, and texture. A stepwise discriminant analysis was performed to determine which combination of measures were best able to discriminate between the benign and malignant nodules. A linear discriminant analysis was then performed using selected features to evaluate the ability of these features to predict the classification for each nodule. A jackknifed procedure was performed to provide a less biased estimate of the linear discriminator's performance. The preliminary discriminant analysis identified two different texture measures- correlation and difference entropy-as the top features in discriminating between benign and malignant nodules. The linear discriminant analysis using these features correctly classified 28/31 cases (90.3%) of the training set. A less biased estimate, using jackknifed training and testing, yielded the same results (90.3% correct). The preliminary results of this approach are very promising in characterizing solitary nodules using quantitative measures extracted from HRCT images. Future work involves including contrast enhancement and three-dimensional measures extracted from volumetric CT scans, as well as the use of several pattern classifiers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)880-888
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1999


  • Computed tomography
  • Computer-aided diagnosis
  • Lung imaging
  • Pattern classification
  • Solitary pulmonary nodule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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