Microcomputed tomography as a diagnostic tool for detection of lymph node metastasis in non-small cell lung cancer: A decision-support approach for pathological examination “A pilot study for method validation”


Journal of Pathology Informatics, vol.15, 2024 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 15
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.jpi.2024.100373
  • Journal Name: Journal of Pathology Informatics
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: Lung cancer, Lymph node metastasis, Micro-CT
  • Ankara University Affiliated: Yes


Background: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients without lymph node (LN) metastases (pN0) may exhibit different survival rates, even when their T stage is similar. This divergence could be attributed to the current pathology practice, wherein LNs are examined solely in two-dimensional (2D). Unfortunately, adhering to the protocols of 2D pathological examination does not ensure the exhaustive sampling of all excised LNs, thereby leaving room for undetected metastatic foci in the unexplored depths of tissues. The employment of micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) facilitates a three-dimensional (3D) evaluation of all LNs without compromising sample integrity. In our study, we utilized quantitative micro-CT parameters to appraise the metastatic status of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) LNs. Methods: Micro-CT scans were conducted on 12 FFPEs obtained from 8 NSCLC patients with histologically confirmed mediastinal LN metastases. Simultaneously, whole-slide images from these FFPEs underwent scanning, and 47 regions of interest (ROIs) (17 metastatic foci, 11 normal lymphoid tissues, 10 adipose tissues, and 9 anthracofibrosis) were marked on scanned images. Quantitative structural variables obtained via micro-CT analysis from tumoral and non-tumoral ROIs, were analyzed. Result: Significant distinctions were observed in linear density, connectivity, connectivity density, and closed porosity between tumoral and non-tumoral ROIs, as indicated by kappa coefficients of 1, 0.90, 1, and 1, respectively. Receiver operating characteristic analysis substantiated the differentiation between tumoral and non-tumoral ROIs based on thickness, linear density, connectivity, connectivity density, and the percentage of closed porosity. Conclusions: Quantitative micro-CT parameters demonstrate the ability to distinguish between tumoral and non-tumoral regions of LNs in FFPEs. The discriminatory characteristics of these quantitative micro-CT parameters imply their potential usefulness in developing an artificial intelligence algorithm specifically designed for the 3D identification of LN metastases while preserving the FFPE tissue.