Repeatability of two semi-automatic artificial intelligence approaches for tumor segmentation in PET

Elisabeth Pfaehler, Liesbet Mesotten, Gem Kramer, Michiel Thomeer, Karolien Vanhove, Johan de Jong, Peter Adriaensens, Otto S. Hoekstra, Ronald Boellaard

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Positron emission tomography (PET) is routinely used for cancer staging and treatment follow-up. Metabolic active tumor volume (MATV) as well as total MATV (TMATV—including primary tumor, lymph nodes and metastasis) and/or total lesion glycolysis derived from PET images have been identified as prognostic factor or for the evaluation of treatment efficacy in cancer patients. To this end, a segmentation approach with high precision and repeatability is important. However, the implementation of a repeatable and accurate segmentation algorithm remains an ongoing challenge. Methods: In this study, we compare two semi-automatic artificial intelligence (AI)-based segmentation methods with conventional semi-automatic segmentation approaches in terms of repeatability. One segmentation approach is based on a textural feature (TF) segmentation approach designed for accurate and repeatable segmentation of primary tumors and metastasis. Moreover, a convolutional neural network (CNN) is trained. The algorithms are trained, validated and tested using a lung cancer PET dataset. The segmentation accuracy of both segmentation approaches is compared using the Jaccard coefficient (JC). Additionally, the approaches are externally tested on a fully independent test–retest dataset. The repeatability of the methods is compared with those of two majority vote (MV2, MV3) approaches, 41%SUVMAX, and a SUV > 4 segmentation (SUV4). Repeatability is assessed with test–retest coefficients (TRT%) and intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). An ICC > 0.9 was regarded as representing excellent repeatability. Results: The accuracy of the segmentations with the reference segmentation was good (JC median TF: 0.7, CNN: 0.73). Both segmentation approaches outperformed most other conventional segmentation methods in terms of test–retest coefficient (TRT% mean: TF: 13.0%, CNN: 13.9%, MV2: 14.1%, MV3: 28.1%, 41%SUVMAX: 28.1%, SUV4: 18.1%) and ICC (TF: 0.98, MV2: 0.97, CNN: 0.99, MV3: 0.73, SUV4: 0.81, and 41%SUVMAX: 0.68). Conclusion: The semi-automatic AI-based segmentation approaches used in this study provided better repeatability than conventional segmentation approaches. Moreover, both algorithms lead to accurate segmentations for both primary tumors as well as metastasis and are therefore good candidates for PET tumor segmentation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalEJNMMI Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Convolutional neural network
  • Repeatability
  • Textural segmentation
  • Tumor segmentation PET

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