Models of ultrasonic radiomics and clinical characters for lymph node metastasis assessment in thyroid cancer: a retrospective study

PeerJ. 2023 Jan 12;11:e14546. doi: 10.7717/peerj.14546. eCollection 2023.


Background: Preoperative prediction of cervical lymph node metastasis in papillary thyroid carcinoma provided a basis for tumor staging and treatment decision. This study aimed to investigate the utility of machine learning and develop different models to preoperatively predict cervical lymph node metastasis based on ultrasonic radiomic features and clinical characteristics in papillary thyroid carcinoma nodules.

Methods: Data from 400 papillary thyroid carcinoma nodules were included and divided into training and validation group. With the help of machine learning, clinical characteristics and ultrasonic radiomic features were extracted and selected using randomforest and least absolute shrinkage and selection operator regression before classified by five classifiers. Finally, 10 models were built and their area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value were measured.

Results: Among the 10 models, RF-RF model revealed the highest area under curve (0.812) and accuracy (0.7542) in validation group. The top 10 variables of it included age, seven textural features, one shape feature and one first-order feature, in which eight were high-dimensional features.

Conclusions: RF-RF model showed the best predictive performance for cervical lymph node metastasis. And the importance features selected by it highlighted the unique role of higher-dimensional statistical methods for radiomics analysis.

Keywords: Lymph node metastasis; Machine learning; Papillary thyroid carcinoma; Radiomics; Ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary / diagnostic imaging
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonics*

Grant support

This work was supported by the Wenzhou Science and Technology Bureau (grant number: 2021Y0021) and the Natural Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province (grant number: LSY19H180008). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.