Dark-Field Chest Radiography Outperforms Conventional Chest Radiography for the Diagnosis and Staging of Pulmonary Emphysema

Theresa Urban, Andreas P. Sauter, Manuela Frank, Konstantin Willer, Wolfgang Noichl, Henriette Bast, Rafael Schick, Julia Herzen, Thomas Koehler, Florian T. Gassert, Jannis H. Bodden, Alexander A. Fingerle, Bernhard Gleich, Bernhard Renger, Marcus R. Makowski, Franz Pfeiffer, Daniela Pfeiffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: Dark-field chest radiography (dfCXR) has recently reached clinical trials. Here we compare dfCXR to conventional radiography for the detection and staging of pulmonary emphysema. Materials and Methods: Subjects were included after a medically indicated computed tomography (CT) scan, showing either no lung impairments or different stages of emphysema. To establish a ground truth, all CT scans were assessed by 3 radiologists assigning emphysema severity scores based on the Fleischner Society classification scheme. Participants were imaged at a commercial chest radiography device and at a prototype for dfCXR, yielding both attenuation-based and dark-field images. Three radiologists blinded to CT score independently assessed images from both devices for presence and severity of emphysema (no, mild, moderate, severe). Statistical analysis included evaluation of receiver operating characteristic curves and pairwise comparison of adjacent Fleischner groups using an area under the curve (AUC)–based z test with a significance level of 0.05. Results: A total of 88 participants (54 men) with a mean age of 64 ± 12 years were included. Compared with conventional images (AUC = 0.73), readers were better able to identify emphysema with images from the dark-field prototype (AUC = 0.85, P = 0.005). Although ratings of adjacent emphysema severity groups with conventional radiographs differed only for trace and mild emphysema, ratings based on images from the dark-field prototype were different for trace and mild, mild and moderate, and moderate and confluent emphysema. Conclusions: Dark-field chest radiography is superior to conventional chest radiography for emphysema diagnosis and staging, indicating the technique's potential as a low-dose diagnostic tool for emphysema assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-781
Number of pages7
JournalInvestigative Radiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • COPD
  • radiography
  • technology assessment


Dive into the research topics of 'Dark-Field Chest Radiography Outperforms Conventional Chest Radiography for the Diagnosis and Staging of Pulmonary Emphysema'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this