Validation of Convolutional Neural Networks for Fast Determination of Whole-Body Metabolic Tumor Burden in Pediatric Lymphoma

J Nucl Med Technol. 2022 Sep;50(3):256-262. doi: 10.2967/jnmt.121.262900. Epub 2022 Apr 19.


18F-FDG PET/CT quantification of whole-body tumor burden in lymphoma is not routinely performed because of the lack of fast methods. Although the semiautomatic method is fast, it is not fast enough to quantify tumor burden in daily clinical practice. Our purpose was to evaluate the performance of convolutional neural network (CNN) software in localizing neoplastic lesions in whole-body 18F-FDG PET/CT images of pediatric lymphoma patients. Methods: The retrospective image dataset, derived from the data pool of the International Atomic Energy Agency (coordinated research project E12017), included 102 baseline staging 18F-FDG PET/CT studies of pediatric lymphoma patients (mean age, 11 y). The images were quantified to determine the whole-body tumor burden (whole-body metabolic tumor volume [wbMTV] and whole-body total lesion glycolysis [wbTLG]) using semiautomatic software and CNN-based software. Both were displayed as semiautomatic wbMTV and wbTLG and as CNN wbMTV and wbTLG. The intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was applied to evaluate concordance between the CNN-based software and the semiautomatic software. Results: Twenty-six patients were excluded from the analysis because the software was unable to perform calculations for them. In the remaining 76 patients, CNN and semiautomatic wbMTV tumor burden metrics correlated strongly (ICC, 0.993; 95% CI, 0.989 - 0.996; P < 0.0001), as did CNN and semiautomatic wbTLG (ICC, 0.999; 95% CI, 0.998-0.999; P < 0.0001). However, the time spent calculating these metrics was significantly (<0.0001) less by CNN (mean, 19 s; range, 11-50 s) than by the semiautomatic method (mean, 21.6 min; range, 3.2-62.1 min), especially in patients with advanced disease. Conclusion: Determining whole-body tumor burden in pediatric lymphoma patients using CNN is fast and feasible in clinical practice.

Keywords: 18F-FDG PET/CT; lymphoma; pediatric; whole-body tumor burden.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma* / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tumor Burden


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18