Harmonization of radiomic features of breast lesions across international DCE-MRI datasets

J Med Imaging (Bellingham). 2020 Jan;7(1):012707. doi: 10.1117/1.JMI.7.1.012707. Epub 2020 Mar 5.


Purpose: Radiomic features extracted from medical images acquired in different countries may demonstrate a batch effect. Thus, we investigated the effect of harmonization on a database of radiomic features extracted from dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance (DCE-MR) breast imaging studies of 3150 benign lesions and cancers collected from international datasets, as well as the potential of harmonization to improve classification of malignancy. Approach: Eligible features were harmonized by category using the ComBat method. Harmonization effect on features was evaluated using the Davies-Bouldin index for degree of clustering between populations for both benign lesions and cancers. Performance in distinguishing between cancers and benign lesions was evaluated for each dataset using 10-fold cross validation with the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) determined on the pre- and postharmonization sets of radiomic features in each dataset and a combined one. Differences in AUCs were evaluated for statistical significance. Results: The Davies-Bouldin index increased by 27% for benign lesions and by 43% for cancers, indicating that the postharmonization features were more similar. Classification performance using postharmonization features performed better than that using preharmonization features ( p < 0.001 for all three). Conclusion: Harmonization of radiomic features may enable combining databases from different populations for more comprehensive computer-aided diagnosis models of breast cancer.

Keywords: breast cancer; computer-aided diagnosis; dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance; harmonization; radiomics.