Quantifying the robustness of [18F]FDG-PET/CT radiomic features with respect to tumor delineation in head and neck and pancreatic cancer patients

ML Belli, M Mori, S Broggi, GM Cattaneo, V Bettinardi, I Dell'Oca, F Fallanca, P Passoni, EG Vanoli, R Calandrino, N Di Muzio, M Picchio, C Fiorino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To investigate the robustness of PET radiomic features (RF) against tumour delineation uncertainty in two clinically relevant situations. Methods: Twenty-five head-and-neck (HN) and 25 pancreatic cancer patients previously treated with18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT)-based planning optimization were considered. Seven FDG-based contours were delineated for tumour (T) and positive lymph nodes (N, for HN patients only) following manual (2 observers), semi-automatic (based on SUV maximum gradient: PET_Edge) and automatic (40%, 50%, 60%, 70% SUV_max thresholds) methods. Seventy-three RF (14 of first order and 59 of higher order) were extracted using the CGITA software (v.1.4). The impact of delineation on volume agreement and RF was assessed by DICE and Intra-class Correlation Coefficients (ICC). Results: A large disagreement between manual and SUV_max method was found for thresholds ≥50%. Inter-observer variability showed median DICE values between 0.81 (HN-T) and 0.73 (pancreas). Volumes defined by PET_Edge were better consistent with the manual ones compared to SUV40%. Regarding RF, 19%/19%/47% of the features showed ICC <0.80 between observers for HN-N/HN-T/pancreas, mostly in the Voxel-alignment matrix and in the intensity-size zone matrix families. RFs with ICC <0.80 against manual delineation (taking the worst value) increased to 44%/36%/61% for PET_Edge and to 69%/53%/75% for SUV40%. Conclusions: About 80%/50% of 72 RF were consistent between observers for HN/pancreas patients. PET_edge was sufficiently robust against manual delineation while SUV40% showed a worse performance. This result suggests the possibility to replace manual with semi-automatic delineation of HN and pancreas tumours in studies including PET radiomic analyses. © 2018 Associazione Italiana di Fisica Medica
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-111
Number of pages7
JournalPhysica Medica
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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