Aim: To evaluate reproducibility and stability of radiomic features as effects of the use of different volume segmentation methods and reconstruction settings. The potential of radiomics in really capturing the presence of heterogeneous tumor uptake and irregular shape was also investigated.
Materials and Methods: An anthropomorphic phantom miming real clinical situations including synthetic lesions with irregular shape and nonuniform radiotracer uptake was used. 18F-FDG PET/CT measurements of the phantom were performed including 38 lesions of different shape, size, lesion-to-background ratio, and radiotracer uptake distribution. Different reconstruction parameters and segmentation methods were considered. COVs were calculated to quantify feature variations over the different reconstruction settings. Friedman test was applied to the values of the radiomic features obtained for the considered segmentation approaches. Two sets of test-retest measurement were acquired and the pairwise intraclass correlation coefficient was calculated. Fifty-eight morphological and statistical features were extracted from the segmented lesion volumes. A Mann-Whitney test was used to evaluate significant differences among each feature when calculated from heterogeneous versus homogeneous uptake. The significance of each radiomic feature in terms of capturing heterogeneity was evaluated also by testing correlation with gold standard indexes of heterogeneity and sphericity.
Results: The choice of the segmentation method has a strong impact on the stability of radiomic features (less than 20% can be considered stable features). Reconstruction affects the estimate of radiomic features (only 26% are stable). Thirty-one radiomic features (53%) resulted to be reproducible, 11 of them are able to discriminate heterogeneity. Among these, we found a subset of 3 radiomic features strongly correlated with GS heterogeneity index that can be suggested as good features for retrospective evaluations.