, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 667-680
Date: 06 Sep 2008

Collecting 48,000 CT Exams for the Lung Screening Study of the National Lung Screening Trial

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Abstract

From 2002–2004, the Lung Screening Study (LSS) of the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) enrolled 34,614 participants, aged 55–74 years, at increased risk for lung cancer due to heavy cigarette smoking. Participants, randomized to standard chest X-ray (CXR) or computed tomography (CT) arms at ten screening centers, received up to three imaging screens for lung cancer at annual intervals. Participant medical histories and radiologist-interpreted screening results were transmitted to the LSS coordinating center, while all images were retained at local screening centers. From 2005–2007, all CT exams were uniformly de-identified and delivered to a central repository, the CT Image Library (CTIL), on external hard drives (94%) or CD/DVD (5.9%), or over a secure Internet connection (0.1%). Of 48,723 CT screens performed, only 176 (0.3%) were unavailable (lost, corrupted, compressed) while 48,547 (99.7%) were delivered to the CTIL. Described here is the experience organizing, implementing, and adapting the clinical-trial workflow surrounding the image retrieval, de-identification, delivery, and archiving of available LSS–NLST CT exams for the CTIL, together with the quality assurance procedures associated with those collection tasks. This collection of CT exams, obtained in a specific, well-defined participant population under a common protocol at evenly spaced intervals, and its attending demographic and clinical information, are now available to lung-disease investigators and developers of computer-aided-diagnosis algorithms. The approach to large scale, multi-center trial CT image collection detailed here may serve as a useful model, while the experience reported should be valuable in the planning and execution of future equivalent endeavors.