Sensitivity of an AI method for [18F]FDG PET/CT outcome prediction of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma patients to image reconstruction protocols

Maria C. Ferrández, Sandeep S. V. Golla, Jakoba J. Eertink, Bart M. de Vries, Sanne E. Wiegers, Gerben J. C. Zwezerijnen, Simone Pieplenbosch, Louise Schilder, Martijn W. Heymans, Josée M. Zijlstra, Ronald Boellaard

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Background: Convolutional neural networks (CNNs), applied to baseline [18F]-FDG PET/CT maximum intensity projections (MIPs), show potential for treatment outcome prediction in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The aim of this study is to investigate the robustness of CNN predictions to different image reconstruction protocols. Baseline [18F]FDG PET/CT scans were collected from 20 DLBCL patients. EARL1, EARL2 and high-resolution (HR) protocols were applied per scan, generating three images with different image qualities. Image-based transformation was applied by blurring EARL2 and HR images to generate EARL1 compliant images using a Gaussian filter of 5 and 7 mm, respectively. MIPs were generated for each of the reconstructions, before and after image transformation. An in-house developed CNN predicted the probability of tumor progression within 2 years for each MIP. The difference in probabilities per patient was then calculated between both EARL2 and HR with respect to EARL1 (delta probabilities or ΔP). We compared these to the probabilities obtained after aligning the data with ComBat using the difference in median and interquartile range (IQR). Results: CNN probabilities were found to be sensitive to different reconstruction protocols (EARL2 ΔP: median = 0.09, interquartile range (IQR) = [0.06, 0.10] and HR ΔP: median = 0.1, IQR = [0.08, 0.16]). Moreover, higher resolution images (EARL2 and HR) led to higher probability values. After image-based and ComBat transformation, an improved agreement of CNN probabilities among reconstructions was found for all patients. This agreement was slightly better after image-based transformation (transformed EARL2 ΔP: median = 0.022, IQR = [0.01, 0.02] and transformed HR ΔP: median = 0.029, IQR = [0.01, 0.03]). Conclusion: Our CNN-based outcome predictions are affected by the applied reconstruction protocols, yet in a predictable manner. Image-based harmonization is a suitable approach to harmonize CNN predictions across image reconstruction protocols.
Original languageEnglish
Article number88
JournalEJNMMI Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Convolutional neural networks
  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
  • PET
  • Reconstruction

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