Incidental Finding of Renal Masses at Unenhanced CT: Prevalence and Analysis of Features for Guiding Management
AJR:197, July 2011
Stacy D. O'Connor Perry J. Pickhardt David H. Kim, M. Raquel Oliva2 Stuart G.Silverman
OBJECTIVE. The purposes of this study were to investigate the frequency and clinical relevance of the incidental finding of renal masses at low-dose unenhanced CT and to analyze the results for features that can be used to guide evaluation.
MATERIALS AND METHODS. Images from unenhanced CT colonographic exami-nations of 3001 consecutively registered adults without symptoms (1667 women, 1334 men; mean age, 57 years) were retrospectively reviewed for the presence of cystic and solid renal masses 1 cm in diameter or larger. An index mass, that is, the most complex or concerning, in each patient was assessed for size, mean attenuation, and morphologic features. Masses containing fat or with attenuation less than 20 HU or greater than 70 HU were considered benign if they did not contain thickened walls or septations, three or more septations, mural nodules, or thick calcifications. Masses with attenuation between 20 and 70 HU or any of these fea¬tures were considered indeterminate. The performance of CT colonography in the detection of renal cell carcinoma was calculated for masses with 2 or more years of follow-up.
RESULTS. At least one renal mass was identified in 433 (14.4%) patients. The mean size of the index masses was 25 ± 16 mm; 376 (86.8%) masses were classified as benign and 57 (13.2%) as indeterminate. The 20- to 70-HU attenuation criterion alone was used for classification of 53 indeterminate lesions. Follow-up data (mean follow-up period, 4.4 years; range, 2-6.3 years) were available for 353 (81.5%) patients with masses (41 indeterminate, 312 benign). Four of the 41 indeterminate masses were diagnosed as renal cell carcinoma. The sen¬sitivity and specificity for renal cell carcinoma on the basis of the indeterminate criteria were 100% and 89.4%. The positive and negative predictive values were 9.8% and 100%.
CONCLUSION. The incidental finding of a renal mass is relatively common at unen¬hanced CT, but imaging criteria can be used for reliable identification of most of these lesions as benign without further workup. Mean attenuation alone appears reliable for determining which renal masses need further evaluation.