Eur Radiol 2020 Nov 25. Epub 2020 Nov 25.
Department of Nuclear Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.
Objectives: We aimed to find the best machine learning (ML) model using F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) for evaluating metastatic mediastinal lymph nodes (MedLNs) in non-small cell lung cancer, and compare the diagnostic results with those of nuclear medicine physicians.
Methods: A total of 1329 MedLNs were reviewed. Boosted decision tree, logistic regression, support vector machine, neural network, and decision forest models were compared. The diagnostic performance of the best ML model was compared with that of physicians. The ML method was divided into ML with quantitative variables only (MLq) and adding clinical information (MLc). We performed an analysis based on the F-FDG-avidity of the MedLNs.
Results: The boosted decision tree model obtained higher sensitivity and negative predictive values but lower specificity and positive predictive values than the physicians. There was no significant difference between the accuracy of the physicians and MLq (79.8% vs. 76.8%, p = 0.067). The accuracy of MLc was significantly higher than that of the physicians (81.0% vs. 76.8%, p = 0.009). In MedLNs with low F-FDG-avidity, ML had significantly higher accuracy than the physicians (70.0% vs. 63.3%, p = 0.018).
Conclusion: Although there was no significant difference in accuracy between the MLq and physicians, the diagnostic performance of MLc was better than that of MLq or of the physicians. The ML method appeared to be useful for evaluating low metabolic MedLNs. Therefore, adding clinical information to the quantitative variables from F-FDG PET/CT can improve the diagnostic results of ML.
Key Points: • Machine learning using two-class boosted decision tree model revealed the highest value of area under curve, and it showed higher sensitivity and negative predictive values but lower specificity and positive predictive values than nuclear medicine physicians. • The diagnostic results from machine learning method after adding clinical information to the quantitative variables improved accuracy significantly than nuclear medicine physicians. • Machine learning could improve the diagnostic significance of metastatic mediastinal lymph nodes, especially in mediastinal lymph nodes with low 18F-FDG-avidity.