[Virtual CT-pneumocystoscopy: indications, advantages and limitations. Our experience].Radiol Med. 2003 Sep; 106(3):154-9.RM
The use of CT volume-rendering techniques allows the evaluation of visceral organs without the need for endoscopy. Conventional endoscopic evaluation of the bladder is limited by the invasiveness of the technique and the difficulty exploring the entire bladder. Virtual evaluation of the bladder by three-dimensional CT reconstruction offers potential advantages and can be used in place of endoscopy. This study investigates the sensitivity of virtual CT in assessing lesion of the bladder wall to compare it with that of conventional endoscopy, and outlines the indications, advantages and disadvantages of virtual CT-pneumocystography.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Between September 2001 and May 2002, 21 patients with haematuria and positive cystoscopic findings were studied. After an initial assessment by ultrasound, the patients underwent pelvic CT as a single volumetric scan after preliminary air distension of the bladder by means of 12 F Foley catheter. The images were processed on an independent workstation (Advantage 3.0 GE) running dedicated software for endoluminal navigation. The lesions detected by endoscopy were classified as sessile or pedunculated, and according to size (more or less than 5 mm). Finally, the results obtained at virtual cystoscopy were evaluated by two radiologists blinded to the conventional cystoscopy results.
Thirty lesions (24 pedunculated, 6 sessile) were detected at conventional cystoscopy in 16 patients (multiple polyposis in 3 cases). Virtual cystoscopy identified 23 lesions (19 pedunculated and 4 sessile). The undetected lesions were pedunculated <5 mm (5 cases) and sessile (2 cases). One correctly identified pedunculated lesion was associated with a bladder stone.
Good quality virtual images were obtained in all of the patients. In only one patient with multiple polyposis the quality of the virtual endoscopic evaluation was limited by the patient's intolerance to bladder distension, although identification of the lesions was not compromised. The overall sensitivity was 77%; this was higher for pedunculated lesions (79%) than for sessile lesions (50%). The virtual technique is less invasive and tends to be associated with fewer complications than is conventional cystoscopy. It also demonstrated a good sensitivity for evaluating pedunculated lesions, allowing evaluation of the bladder base and anterior wall, sites that are commonly poorly accessible at conventional cystoscopy. Further advantages of the virtual technique include the possibility of accurately measuring the extent of the lesion and obtaining virtual images even in patients with severe urethral obstruction and active bleeding. The limitations include the inability to obtain tissue for histologic examination or to perform endoscopic resection of pedunculated lesions. The technique is less sensitive than conventional cystoscopy in the detection of sessile lesions or very small polyps (<5 mm). Furthermore, diffuse wall thickening reduces bladder distension thereby preventing optimal evaluation. The most valuable indication appears to be the follow-up of treated wall lesions.
Virtual CT-pneumocystoscopy can replace conventional cystoscopy in cases with pedunculated lesions when there is no need for biopsy, when the lesions are located at the bladder base or when cystoscopic instrumentation cannot be introduced into the bladder due to stenosis. Virtual pneumocystoscopy can also be used in the follow-up of treated polypoid lesions in association with pelvic CT-angiography.