Radiomics is an active area of research in medical image analysis, however poor reproducibility of radiomics has hampered its application in clinical practice. This issue is especially prominent when radiomic features are calculated from noisy images, such as low dose computed tomography (CT) scans. In this article, we investigate the possibility of improving the reproducibility of radiomic features calculated on noisy CTs by using generative models for denoising. Our work concerns two types of generative models-encoder-decoder network (EDN) and conditional generative adversarial network (CGAN). We then compared their performance against a more traditional 'non-local means' denoising algorithm. We added noise to sinograms of full dose CTs to mimic low dose CTs with two levels of noise: low-noise CT and high-noise CT. Models were trained on high-noise CTs and used to denoise low-noise CTs without re-training. We tested the performance of our model in real data, using a dataset of same-day repeated low dose CTs in order to assess the reproducibility of radiomic features in denoised images. EDN and the CGAN achieved similar improvements on the concordance correlation coefficients (CCC) of radiomic features for low-noise images from 0.87 [95%CI, (0.833, 0.901)] to 0.92 [95%CI, (0.909, 0.935)] and for high-noise images from 0.68 [95%CI, (0.617, 0.745)] to 0.92 [95%CI, (0.909, 0.936)], respectively. The EDN and the CGAN improved the test-retest reliability of radiomic features (mean CCC increased from 0.89 [95%CI, (0.881, 0.914)] to 0.94 [95%CI, (0.927, 0.951)]) based on real low dose CTs. These results show that denoising using EDN and CGANs could be used to improve the reproducibility of radiomic features calculated from noisy CTs. Moreover, images at different noise levels can be denoised to improve the reproducibility using the above models without need for re-training, provided the noise intensity is not excessively greater that of the high-noise CTs. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first effort to improve the reproducibility of radiomic features calculated on low dose CT scans by applying generative models.
- computed tomography
- generative models