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Deep Learning Algorithm for Reducing CT Slice Thickness: Effect on Reproducibility of Radiomics in Lung Cancer

  • Dec. 2020
  • by Sohee Park et. al.

PURPOSE 
To retrospectively assess the effect of CT slice thickness on the reproducibility of radiomic features (RFs) of lung cancer, and to investigate if convolutional neural network (CNN)-based super-resolution (SR) algorithms can improve the reproducibility of RFs obtained from different slice thicknesses. 

METHOD AND MATERIALS
CT images from 100 pathologically proven lung cancers acquired between July 2017 and December 2017 were evaluated, including 1, 3, and 5 mm slice thicknesses. CNN-based SR algorithms using residual learning were developed to convert thick-slice images into 1 mm slices. Lung cancers were semi-automatically segmented and a total of 702 RFs (tumor intensity, texture, and wavelet features) were extracted from 1, 3, and 5 mm slices, as well as the 1 mm slices generated from the 3 and 5 mm images. The stabilities of the RFs were evaluated using concordance correlation coefficients (CCCs).

RESULTS 
All CT scans were successfully converted to 1 mm slice images at a rate of 2.5 s/slice. The mean CCCs for the comparisons of original 1 vs 3 mm, 1 vs 5 mm, and 3 vs 5 mm images were 0.41, 0.27, and 0.65, respectively (all, P<0.001). Tumor intensity features showed the best reproducibility and wavelets the lowest. The majority of RFs failed to reach reproducibility (CCC>=0.85; 3.6%, 1.0%, and 21.5%, respectively). In terms of nodule type, GGNs had better reproducibility than solid nodules in all RF classes and in all slice-thickness pairings (P < 0.001 for 1 vs 3 mm and 1 vs 5 mm, and P = 0.002 for 3 vs 5 mm). After applying CNN-based SR algorithms, the reproducibility significantly improved in all three pairings (mean CCCs: 0.58, 0.45, and 0.72; all, P<0.001). This improvement was also observed in the subgroupings based on the classes of RFs and nodule types. The reproducible RFs also increased (36.3%, 17.4%, and 36.9%, respectively).

CONCLUSION 
The reproducibility of RFs in lung cancer is significantly influenced by CT slice thickness, which can be improved by the CNN-based SR algorithms.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE/APPLICATION 
On the basis of the findings of our study, the comparisons of radiomics results derived from CT images with different slice thicknesses may be unreliable. As our convolutional neural network-based image conversion algorithm is easily applicable and reliable, this algorithm may be used for enhancing reproducibility of radiomic features when the CT slice-thicknesses are different.

Author

Sohee Park, MD, Sang Min Lee, MD, PhD, Kyu-Hwan Jung, PhD, Hyunho Park, MD, Woong Bae, MS, Joon Beom Seo, MD, PhD

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