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British Thoracic Society guidelines for the investigation and management of pulmonary nodules: accredited by NICE
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    Is the use of the Herder score valid in these guidelines?
    • Deborah R Pencharz, Consultant in Nuclear Medicine Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
    • Other Contributors:
      • Anant Patel, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine
      • Thomas L Wagner, Consultant in Nuclear Medicine

    Dear Editors,
    This journal published the BTS guidelines for the management of pulmonary nodules in August 2015 (1), leading to widespread evidence-based management of this common clinical problem. The use of the Herder score (2) to estimate or predict the likelihood of malignancy has since become routine in lung cancer MDMs around the country.
    We therefore wish to highlight that the Herder prediction model was developed using the intensity of FDG uptake (absent, faint, moderate or intense) from the uncorrected PET images. However, as far as we are aware, lung cancer MDMs routinely assess the intensity of FDG uptake from the corrected images which is not in accordance with the original Herder model.
    The use of uncorrected images in the original Herder study (2) to distinguish between uptake categories potentially alters the perceived evidence base of the recommendations in the BTS guidelines (1) to distinguish between faint and moderate uptake according to mediastinal blood pool given that this scale of uptake was not used in the original score, has not been validated and could mean we are not using the correct category in the risk model.
    Furthermore, when considering the widespread use of the Herder score, it should be appreciated that it was formulated from patients scanned between 1997 and 2001. The Herder paper describes that “emission scans were acquired in a two-dimensional mode … and were reconstructed using ordered subset expectation maximisa...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.