Characterizing search, recognition, and decision in the detection of lung nodules on CT scans: Elucidation with eye tracking

Geoffrey D. Rubin, Justus E. Roos, Martin Tall, Brian Harrawood, Sukantadev Bag, Donald L. Ly, Danielle M. Seaman, Lynne M. Hurwitz, Sandy Napel, Kingshuk Roy Choudhury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Results: Detected nodules were within 50 pixels of the nearest gaze point for 990 of 992 correct detections. On average, radiologists searched 26.7% of the lung parenchyma in 3 minutes and 16 seconds and encompassed between 86 and 143 of 157 nodules within their GVs. Once encompassed within their GV, the average sensitivity of nodule recognition and acceptance ranged from 47 of 100 nodules to 103 of 124 nodules (sensitivity, 0.47-0.82). Overall sensitivity ranged from 47 to 114 of 157 nodules (sensitivity, 0.30-0.73) and showed moderate correlation (r = 0.62, P = .02) with the fraction of lung volume searched.

Conclusion: Relationships between reader search, recognition and acceptance, and overall lung nodule detection rate can be studied with eye tracking. Radiologists appear to actively search less than half of the lung parenchyma, with substantial interreader variation in volume searched, fraction of nodules included within the search volume, sensitivity for nodules within the search volume, and overall detection rate.

Purpose: To determine the effectiveness of radiologists' search, recognition, and acceptance of lung nodules on computed tomographic (CT) images by using eye tracking.

Materials and This study was performed with a protocol approved by Methods: the institutional review board. All study subjects provided informed consent, and all private health information was protected in accordance with HIPAA. A remote eye tracker was used to record time-varying gaze paths while 13 radiologists interpreted 40 lung CT images with an average of 3.9 synthetic nodules (5-mm diameter) embedded randomly in the lung parenchyma. The radiologists' gaze volumes (GVs) were defined as the portion of the lung parenchyma within 50 pixels (approximately 3 cm) of all gaze points. The fraction of the total lung volume encompassed within the GVs, the fraction of lung nodules encompassed within each GV (search effectiveness), the fraction of lung nodules within the GV detected by the reader (recognition-acceptance effectiveness), and overall sensitivity of lung nodule detection were measured.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-286
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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