Impact of contouring variability on oncological PET radiomics features in the lung

F. Yang, G. Simpson, L. Young, J. Ford, N. Dogan, L. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Radiomics features extracted from oncological PET images are currently under intense scrutiny within the context of risk stratification for a variety of cancers. However, the lack of robustness assessment poses problems for their application across institutions and for broader patient populations. The objective of the current study was to examine the extent to which radiomics parameters from oncological PET vary in response to manual contouring variability in lung cancer. Imaging data employed in the study consisted of 26 PET scans with lesions in the lung being created through the use of an anthropomorphic phantom in conjunction with Monte Carlo simulations. From each of the simulated lesions, 25 radiomics features related to the gray-level co-occurrence matrices (GLCOM), gray-level size zone matrices (GLSZM), and gray-level neighborhood difference matrices (GLNDM) were extracted from ground truth contour and from manual contours provided by 10 raters in regard to four intensity discretization schemes with number of gray levels of 32, 64, 128, and 256, respectively. The impact of interrater variability in tumor delineation upon the agreement between raters on radiomics features was examined via interclass correlation and leave-p-out assessment. Only weak and moderate correlations were found between segmentation accuracy as measured by the Dice coefficient and percent feature error from ground truth for the vast majority of the features being examined. GLNDM-based texture parameters emerged as the top performing category of radiomcs features in terms of robustness against contouring variability for discretization schemes engaging number of gray levels of 32, 64, and 128 while GLCOM-based parameters stood out for discretization scheme engaging 256 gray levels. How and to what extent interrater reliability of radiomics features vary in response to the number of raters were largely feature-dependent. It was concluded that impact of contouring variability on PET-based radiomics features is present to varying degrees and could be experienced as a barrier to convey PET-based radiomics research to clinical relevance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number369
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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