The precision of textural analysis in 18F-FDG-PET scans of oesophageal cancer
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Measuring tumour heterogeneity by textural analysis in 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (18F-FDG PET) provides predictive and prognostic information but technical aspects of image processing can influence parameter measurements. We therefore tested effects of image smoothing, segmentation and quantisation on the precision of heterogeneity measurements.
Sixty-four 18F-FDG PET/CT images of oesophageal cancer were processed using different Gaussian smoothing levels (2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 mm), maximum standardised uptake value (SUVmax) segmentation thresholds (45 %, 50 %, 55 %, 60 %) and quantisation (8, 16, 32, 64, 128 bin widths). Heterogeneity parameters included grey-level co-occurrence matrix (GLCM), grey-level run length matrix (GLRL), neighbourhood grey-tone difference matrix (NGTDM), grey-level size zone matrix (GLSZM) and fractal analysis methods. The concordance correlation coefficient (CCC) for the three processing variables was calculated for each heterogeneity parameter.
Most parameters showed poor agreement between different bin widths (CCC median 0.08, range 0.004–0.99). Segmentation and smoothing showed smaller effects on precision (segmentation: CCC median 0.82, range 0.33–0.97; smoothing: CCC median 0.99, range 0.58–0.99).
Smoothing and segmentation have only a small effect on the precision of heterogeneity measurements in 18F-FDG PET data. However, quantisation often has larger effects, highlighting a need for further evaluation and standardisation of parameters for multicentre studies.
• Heterogeneity measurement precision in 18 F-FDG PET is influenced by image processing methods.
• Quantisation shows large effects on precision of heterogeneity parameters in 18 F-FDG PET/CT.
• Smoothing and segmentation show comparatively smaller effects on precision of heterogeneity parameters.
Keywords18F-FDG PET Texture analysis Heterogeneity Precision Oesophageal cancer
The authors acknowledge support from the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre of Guys & St Thomas’ NHS Trust in partnership and King’s College London and University College London Comprehensive Cancer Imaging Centre funded by Cancer Research UK and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in association with the Medical Research Council and Department of Health (England). The scientific guarantor of this publication is Gary Cook. The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article.
No complex statistical methods were necessary for this paper. Institutional review board approval was not required because of the retrospective nature of the analysis of anonymised data. Written informed consent was waived by the institutional review board. Methodology: retrospective, observational, performed at one institution.
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