Purpose: Lymphoma lesion detection and segmentation on whole-body FDG-PET/CT are a challenging task because of the diversity of involved nodes, organs or physiological uptakes. We sought to investigate the performances of a three-dimensional (3D) convolutional neural network (CNN) to automatically segment total metabolic tumour volume (TMTV) in large datasets of patients with diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL).
Methods: The dataset contained pre-therapy FDG-PET/CT from 733 DLBCL patients of 2 prospective LYmphoma Study Association (LYSA) trials. The first cohort (n = 639) was used for training using a 5-fold cross validation scheme. The second cohort (n = 94) was used for external validation of TMTV predictions. Ground truth masks were manually obtained after a 41% SUVmax adaptive thresholding of lymphoma lesions. A 3D U-net architecture with 2 input channels for PET and CT was trained on patches randomly sampled within PET/CTs with a summed cross entropy and Dice similarity coefficient (DSC) loss. Segmentation performance was assessed by the DSC and Jaccard coefficients. Finally, TMTV predictions were validated on the second independent cohort.
Results: Mean DSC and Jaccard coefficients (± standard deviation) in the validations set were 0.73 ± 0.20 and 0.68 ± 0.21, respectively. An underestimation of mean TMTV by - 12 mL (2.8%) ± 263 was found in the validation sets of the first cohort (P = 0.27). In the second cohort, an underestimation of mean TMTV by - 116 mL (20.8%) ± 425 was statistically significant (P = 0.01).
Conclusion: Our CNN is a promising tool for automatic detection and segmentation of lymphoma lesions, despite slight underestimation of TMTV. The fully automatic and open-source features of this CNN will allow to increase both dissemination in routine practice and reproducibility of TMTV assessment in lymphoma patients.
Keywords: Convolutional neural network; Deep learning; Lymphoma; Positron emission tomography; Segmentation; Total metabolic tumour volume; U-net.