Investigating the role of imaging factors in the variability of CT-based texture analysis metrics

J Appl Clin Med Phys. 2023 Nov 14:e14192. doi: 10.1002/acm2.14192. Online ahead of print.


Objective: This study assesses the robustness of first-order radiomic texture features namely interquartile range (IQR), coefficient of variation (CV) and standard deviation (SD) derived from computed tomography (CT) images by varying dose, reconstruction algorithms and slice thickness using scans of a uniform water phantom, a commercial anthropomorphic liver phantom, and a human liver in-vivo.

Materials and methods: Scans were acquired on a 16 cm detector GE Revolution Apex Edition CT scanner with variations across three different nominal slice thicknesses: 0.625, 1.25, and 2.5 mm, three different dose levels: CTDIvol of 13.86 mGy for the standard dose, 40% reduced dose and 60% reduced dose and two different reconstruction algorithms: a deep learning image reconstruction (DLIR-high) algorithm and a hybrid iterative reconstruction (IR) algorithm ASiR-V50% (AV50) were explored, varying one at a time. To assess the effect of non-linear modifications of images by AV50 and DLIR-high, images of the water phantom were also reconstructed using filtered back projection (FBP). Quantitative measures of IQR, CV and SD were extracted from twelve pre-selected, circular (1 cm diameter) regions of interest (ROIs) capturing different texture patterns across all scans.

Results: Across all scans, imaging, and reconstruction settings, CV, IQR and SD were observed to increase with reduction in dose and slice thickness. An exception to this observation was found when using FBP reconstruction. Lower values of CV, IQR and SD were observed in DLIR-high reconstructions compared to AV50 and FBP. The Poisson statistics were more stringently noted in FBP than DLIR-high and AV50, due to the non-linear nature of the latter two algorithms.

Conclusion: Variation in image noise due to dose reduction algorithms, tube current, and slice thickness show a consistent trend across phantom and patient scans. Prospective evaluation across multiple centers, scanners and imaging protocols is needed for establishing quality assurance standards of radiomics.

Keywords: computed tomography; imaging; phantom study; quality assurance; radiomics.