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In Computer methods and programs in biomedicine

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE : To investigate the effect of the slab thickness in maximum intensity projections (MIPs) on the candidate detection performance of a deep learning-based computer-aided detection (DL-CAD) system for pulmonary nodule detection in CT scans.

METHODS : The public LUNA16 dataset includes 888 CT scans with 1186 nodules annotated by four radiologists. From those scans, MIP images were reconstructed with slab thicknesses of 5 to 50 mm (at 5 mm intervals) and 3 to 13 mm (at 2 mm intervals). The architecture in the nodule candidate detection part of the DL-CAD system was trained separately using MIP images with various slab thicknesses. Based on ten-fold cross-validation, the sensitivity and the F2 score were determined to evaluate the performance of using each slab thickness at the nodule candidate detection stage. The free-response receiver operating characteristic (FROC) curve was used to assess the performance of the whole DL-CAD system that took the results combined from 16 MIP slab thickness settings.

RESULTS : At the nodule candidate detection stage, the combination of results from 16 MIP slab thickness settings showed a high sensitivity of 98.0% with 46 false positives (FPs) per scan. Regarding a single MIP slab thickness of 10 mm, the highest sensitivity of 90.0% with 8 FPs/scan was reached before false positive reduction. The sensitivity increased (82.8% to 90.0%) for slab thickness of 1 to 10 mm and decreased (88.7% to 76.6%) for slab thickness of 15-50 mm. The number of FPs was decreasing with increasing slab thickness, but was stable at 5 FPs/scan at a slab thickness of 30 mm or more. After false positive reduction, the DL-CAD system, utilizing 16 MIP slab thickness settings, had the sensitivity of 94.4% with 1 FP/scan.

CONCLUSIONS : The utilization of multi-MIP images could improve the performance at the nodule candidate detection stage, even for the whole DL-CAD system. For a single slab thickness of 10 mm, the highest sensitivity for pulmonary nodule detection was reached at the nodule candidate detection stage, similar to the slab thickness usually applied by radiologists.

Zheng Sunyi, Cui Xiaonan, Vonder Marleen, Veldhuis Raymond N J, Ye Zhaoxiang, Vliegenthart Rozemarijn, Oudkerk Matthijs, van Ooijen Peter M A


Artificial intelligence, Computer-assisted, Diagnosis, Maximum intensity projection, Pulmonary Nodules, Tomography, X-ray computed