Delta radiomics: a systematic review

Radiol Med. 2021 Dec;126(12):1571-1583. doi: 10.1007/s11547-021-01436-7. Epub 2021 Dec 4.


Background: Radiomics can provide quantitative features from medical imaging that can be correlated with various biological features and clinical endpoints. Delta radiomics, on the other hand, consists in the analysis of feature variation at different acquisition time points, usually before and after therapy. The aim of this study was to provide a systematic review of the different delta radiomics approaches.

Methods: Eligible articles were searched in Embase, PubMed, and ScienceDirect using a search string that included free text and/or Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) with three key search terms: "radiomics", "texture", and "delta". Studies were analysed using QUADAS-2 and the RQS tool.

Results: Forty-eight studies were finally included. The studies were divided into preclinical/methodological (five studies, 10.4%); rectal cancer (six studies, 12.5%); lung cancer (twelve studies, 25%); sarcoma (five studies, 10.4%); prostate cancer (three studies, 6.3%), head and neck cancer (six studies, 12.5%); gastrointestinal malignancies excluding rectum (seven studies, 14.6%), and other disease sites (four studies, 8.3%). The median RQS of all studies was 25% (mean 21% ± 12%), with 13 studies (30.2%) achieving a quality score < 10% and 22 studies (51.2%) < 25%.

Conclusions: Delta radiomics shows potential benefit for several clinical endpoints in oncology (differential diagnosis, prognosis and prediction of treatment response, and evaluation of side effects). Nevertheless, the studies included in this systematic review suffer from the bias of overall low quality, so that the conclusions are currently heterogeneous, not robust, and not replicable. Further research with prospective and multicentre studies is needed for the clinical validation of delta radiomics approaches.

Keywords: Delta radiomics; Meta-analysis; Oncology; Precision medicine; Radiomics; Radiotherapy; Texture analysis.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*