Background: Machine learning studies require a large number of images often obtained on different PET scanners. When merging these images, the use of harmonized images following EARL-standards is essential. However, when including retrospective images, EARL accreditation might not have been in place. The aim of this study was to develop a convolutional neural network (CNN) that can identify retrospectively if an image is EARL compliant and if it is meeting older or newer EARL-standards. Materials and methods: 96 PET images acquired on three PET/CT systems were included in the study. All images were reconstructed with the locally clinically preferred, EARL1, and EARL2 compliant reconstruction protocols. After image pre-processing, one CNN was trained to separate clinical and EARL compliant reconstructions. A second CNN was optimized to identify EARL1 and EARL2 compliant images. The accuracy of both CNNs was assessed using fivefold cross-validation. The CNNs were validated on 24 images acquired on a PET scanner not included in the training data. To assess the impact of image noise on the CNN decision, the 24 images were reconstructed with different scan durations. Results: In the cross-validation, the first CNN classified all images correctly. When identifying EARL1 and EARL2 compliant images, the second CNN identified 100% EARL1 compliant and 85% EARL2 compliant images correctly. The accuracy in the independent dataset was comparable to the cross-validation accuracy. The scan duration had almost no impact on the results. Conclusion: The two CNNs trained in this study can be used to retrospectively include images in a multi-center setting by, e.g., adding additional smoothing. This method is especially important for machine learning studies where the harmonization of images from different PET systems is essential.
- Convolutional neural network
- Image quality