Impact of CT convolution kernel on robustness of radiomic features for different lung diseases and tissue types

The British Journal of Radiology 2021 February 5 [Link]

Sarah Denzler, Diem Vuong, Marta Bogowicz, Matea Pavic, Thomas Frauenfelder, Sandra Thierstein, Eric Innocents Eboulet, Britta Maurer, Janine Schniering, Hubert Szymon Gabryś, Isabelle Schmitt-Opitz, Miklos Pless, Robert Foerster, Matthias Guckenberger, Stephanie Tanadini-Lang


Objectives: In this study, we aimed to assess the impact of different CT reconstruction kernels on the stability of radiomic features and the transferability between different diseases and tissue types. Three lung diseases were evaluated, i.e. non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) and interstitial lung disease related to systemic sclerosis (SSc-ILD) as well as four different tissue types, i.e. primary tumor, largest involved lymph node ipsilateral and contralateral lung.

Methods: Pre-treatment non-contrast enhanced CT scans from 23 NSCLC, 10 MPM and 12 SSc-ILD patients were collected retrospectively. For each patient, CT scans were reconstructed using smooth and sharp kernel in filtered back projection. The regions of interest (ROIs) were contoured on the smooth kernel-based CT and transferred to the sharp kernel-based CT. The voxels were resized to the largest voxel dimension of each cohort. In total, 1386 features were analyzed. Feature stability was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient. Features above the stability threshold >0.9 were considered stable.

Results: We observed a strong impact of the reconstruction method on stability of the features (at maximum 26% of the 1386 features were stable). Intensity features were the most stable followed by texture and wavelet features. The wavelet features showed a positive correlation between percentage of stable features and size of the ROI (R2 = 0.79, p = 0.005). Lymph node radiomics showed poorest stability (<10%) and lung radiomics the largest stability (26%). Robustness analysis done on the contralateral lung could to a large extent be transferred to the ipsilateral lung, and the overlap of stable lung features between different lung diseases was more than 50%. However, results of robustness studies cannot be transferred between tissue types, which was investigated in NSCLC and MPM patients; the overlap of stable features for lymph node and lung, as well as for primary tumor and lymph node was very small in both disease types.

Conclusion: The robustness of radiomic features is strongly affected by different reconstruction kernels. The effect is largely influenced by the tissue type and less by the disease type.