Background and purpose: Radiomics textural features derived from PET imaging are of broad and current interest due to recent evidence of their prognostic value during cancer management. An inherent assumption is the link between these imaging features and the underlying tumoral phenotypic spatial heterogeneity. The purpose of this work was to validate this assumption for tumors within the lung through a comparison of image based textural features and the ground truth activity distribution from which the images were created. A second purpose was to assess the level at which PET imaging introduces spatial texture not present in the associated ground truth activity distribution. Materials and methods: 25 lung lesions were created using an anthropomorphic phantom. Ten of the lesions had a spherical shape with a uniform activity distribution. The remaining 15 had an irregular shape with a heterogeneous activity distribution. PET images were created for each lesion using Monte Carlo simulation. 79 textural features related to the gray-level intensity histograms, co-occurrence matrices, neighborhood difference matrices, run length, and size zone matrices were derived from both the simulated PET images and ground truth activity maps. A comparison was made between the two datasets using statistical analysis. Results: For homogenous lesions, features extracted from the PET images were largely irrelevant to the underlying uniform activity distribution. Additionally, the majority of these features assumed substantial values implying that an extensive amount of spatial texture had been introduced into the final imaging data. For heterogeneous lesions, complex trends were observed in the deviation between features extracted from PET images and those extracted from the ground truth activity maps. Moreover, the extent of both the deviation and the associated dynamic range was seen to be greatly feature-dependent. Conclusion: The use of image based textural features as a surrogate for tumoral phenotypic spatial heterogeneity could not be clearly validated. The association between the two is complex and a significant amount of uncertainty exist due to the introduction of incidental texture during image acquisition and reconstruction.
- Intratumoral heterogeneity
- Positron emission tomography
- Quantitative imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging