Background: PET-based texture features have been used to quantify tumor heterogeneity due to their predictive power in treatment outcome. We investigated the sensitivity of texture features to tumor motion by comparing static (3D) and respiratory-gated (4D) PET imaging.
Methods: Twenty-six patients (34 lesions) received 3D and 4D [18F]FDG-PET scans before the chemo-radiotherapy. The acquired 4D data were retrospectively binned into five breathing phases to create the 4D image sequence. Texture features, including Maximal correlation coefficient (MCC), Long run low gray (LRLG), Coarseness, Contrast, and Busyness, were computed within the physician-defined tumor volume. The relative difference (δ3D-4D) in each texture between the 3D- and 4D-PET imaging was calculated. Coefficient of variation (CV) was used to determine the variability in the textures between all 4D-PET phases. Correlations between tumor volume, motion amplitude, and δ3D-4D were also assessed.
Results: 4D-PET increased LRLG ( = 1%-2%, p < 0.02), Busyness ( = 7%-19%, p < 0.01), and decreased MCC ( = 1%-2%, p < 7.5 × 10(-3)), Coarseness ( = 5%-10%, p < 0.05) and Contrast ( = 4%-6%, p > 0.08) compared to 3D-PET. Nearly negligible variability was found between the 4D phase bins with CV < 5% for MCC, LRLG, and Coarseness. For Contrast and Busyness, moderate variability was found with CV = 9% and 10%, respectively. No strong correlation was found between the tumor volume and δ3D-4D for the texture features. Motion amplitude had moderate impact on δ for MCC and Busyness and no impact for LRLG, Coarseness, and Contrast.
Conclusions: Significant differences were found in MCC, LRLG, Coarseness, and Busyness between 3D and 4D PET imaging. The variability between phase bins for MCC, LRLG, and Coarseness was negligible, suggesting that similar quantification can be obtained from all phases. Texture features, blurred out by respiratory motion during 3D-PET acquisition, can be better resolved by 4D-PET imaging. 4D-PET textures may have better prognostic value as they are less susceptible to tumor motion.