Background: Due to widespread use of low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening, increasing number of patients are found to have subsolid nodules (SSNs). The management of SSNs is a clinical challenge and primarily depends on CT imaging. We seek to identify risk factors that may help clinicians determine an optimal course of management. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the characteristics of 83 SSN lesions, including 48 pure groundglass nodules and 35 part-solid nodules, collected from 83 patients who underwent surgical resection. Results: Of the 83 SSNs, 16 (19.28%) were benign and 67 (80.72%) were malignant, including 23 adenocarcinomas in situ (AIS), 16 minimally invasive adenocarcinomas (MIA), and 28 invasive adenocarcinomas (IA). Malignant lesions were found to have significantly larger diameters (P<0.05) with an optimal cut-off point of 9.24 mm. Significant indicators of malignancy include female sex (P<0.05), air bronchograms (P<0.001), spiculation (P<0.05), pleural tail sign (P<0.05), and lobulation (P<0.05). When compared with AIS/MIA combined, IA lesions were found to be larger (P<0.05) with an optimal cutoff of 12 mm, and have a higher percentage of part-solid nodules (P<0.001), pleural tail sign (P<0.001), air bronchograms (P<0.05), and lobulation (P<0.05). Further multivariate analysis found that lesion size and spiculation were independent factors for malignancy while part-solid nodules were associated with IA histology. Conclusions: East Asian females are at risk of presenting with a malignant lesion even without history of heavy smoking or old age. Nodule features associated with malignancy include larger size, air bronchograms, lobulation, pleural tail sign, spiculation, and solid components. A combination of patient characteristic and LDCT features can be effectively used to guide management of patients with SSNs.
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