Breast cancer MRI radiomics: An overview of algorithmic features and impact of inter-reader variability in annotating tumors

Med Phys. 2018 Jul;45(7):3076-3085. doi: 10.1002/mp.12925. Epub 2018 May 11.


Purpose: To review features used in MRI radiomics of breast cancer and study the inter-reader stability of the features.

Methods: We implemented 529 algorithmic features that can be extracted from tumor and fibroglandular tissue (FGT) in breast MRIs. The features were identified based on a review of the existing literature with consideration of their usage, prognostic ability, and uniqueness. The set was then extended so that it comprehensively describes breast cancer imaging characteristics. The features were classified into 10 groups based on the type of data used to extract them and the type of calculation being performed. For the assessment of inter-reader variability, four fellowship-trained readers annotated tumors on preoperative dynamic contrast-enhanced MRIs for 50 breast cancer patients. Based on the annotations, an algorithm automatically segmented the image and extracted all features resulting in one set of features for each reader. For a given feature, the inter-reader stability was defined as the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) computed using the feature values obtained through all readers for all cases.

Results: The average inter-reader stability for all features was 0.8474 (95% CI: 0.8068-0.8858). The mean inter-reader stability was lower for tumor-based features (0.6348, 95% CI: 0.5391-0.7257) than FGT-based features (0.9984, 95% CI: 0.9970-0.9992). The feature group with the highest inter-reader stability quantifies breast and FGT volume. The feature group with the lowest inter-reader stability quantifies variations in tumor enhancement.

Conclusions: Breast MRI radiomics features widely vary in terms of their stability in the presence of inter-reader variability. Appropriate measures need to be taken for reducing this variability in tumor-based radiomics.

Keywords: breast cancer MRI; image segmentation; imaging features; inter-reader variability; intraclass correlation coefficient; radiogenomics; radiomics.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Observer Variation