Korean J Radiol.  2021 May;22(5):735-741. 10.3348/kjr.2020.0865.

Circularity Index on Contrast-Enhanced Computed Tomography Helps Distinguish Fat-Poor Angiomyolipoma from Renal Cell Carcinoma: Retrospective Analyses of Histologically Proven 257 Small Renal Tumors Less Than 4 cm

  • 1Department of Radiology, Chungnam National University Hospital, Daejeon, Korea.
  • 2Department of Radiology, Chungnam National University College of Medicine, Daejeon, Korea


To evaluate circularity as a quantitative shape factor of small renal tumor on computed tomography (CT) in differentiating fat-poor angiomyolipoma (AML) from renal cell carcinoma (RCC).
Materials and Methods
In 257 consecutive patients, 257 pathologically confirmed renal tumors (either AML or RCC less than 4 cm), which did not include visible fat on unenhanced CT, were retrospectively evaluated. A radiologist drew the tumor margin to measure the perimeter and area in all the contrast-enhanced axial CT images. In each image, a quantitative shape factor, circularity, was calculated using the following equation: 4 x π x (area ÷ perimeter 2 ). The median circularity (circularity index) was adopted as a representative value in each tumor. The circularity index was compared between fat-poor AML and RCC, and the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was performed. Univariable and multivariable binary logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the independent predictor of fat-poor AML.
Of the 257 tumors, 26 were AMLs and 231 were RCCs (184 clear cell RCCs, 25 papillary RCCs, and 22 chromophobe RCCs). The mean circularity index of AML was significantly lower than that of RCC (0.86 ± 0.04 vs. 0.93 ± 0.02, p < 0.001). The mean circularity index was not different between the subtypes of RCCs (0.93 ± 0.02, 0.92 ± 0.02, and 0.92 ± 0.02 for clear cell, papillary, and chromophobe RCCs, respectively, p = 0.210). The area under the ROC curve of circularity index was 0.924 for differentiating fat-poor AML from RCC. The sensitivity and specificity were 88.5% and 90.9%, respectively (cut-off, 0.90). Lower circularity index (≤ 0.9) was an independent predictor (odds ratio, 41.0; p < 0.001) for predicting fat-poor AML on multivariable logistic regression analysis.
Circularity is a useful quantitative shape factor of small renal tumor for differentiating fat-poor AML from RCC.


Angiomyolipoma; Angiomyolipoma; Angiomyolipoma; Renal cell carcinoma; Renal cell carcinoma; Renal cell carcinoma; Computed tomography; Computed tomography; Computed tomography; Differential diagnosis; Differential diagnosis; Differential diagnosis; Circularity; Circularity; Circularity
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