Quantitative imaging approaches compute features within images' regions of interest. Segmentation is rarely completely automatic, requiring time-consuming editing by experts. We propose a new paradigm, called "digital biopsy," that allows for the collection of intensity- and texture-based features from these regions at least 1 order of magnitude faster than the current manual or semiautomated methods. A radiologist reviewed automated segmentations of lung nodules from 100 preoperative volume computed tomography scans of patients with non-small cell lung cancer, and manually adjusted the nodule boundaries in each section, to be used as a reference standard, requiring up to 45 minutes per nodule. We also asked a different expert to generate a digital biopsy for each patient using a paintbrush tool to paint a contiguous region of each tumor over multiple cross-sections, a procedure that required an average of <3 minutes per nodule. We simulated additional digital biopsies using morphological procedures. Finally, we compared the features extracted from these digital biopsies with our reference standard using intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) to characterize robustness. Comparing the reference standard segmentations to our digital biopsies, we found that 84/94 features had an ICC >0.7; comparing erosions and dilations, using a sphere of 1.5-mm radius, of our digital biopsies to the reference standard segmentations resulted in 41/94 and 53/94 features, respectively, with ICCs >0.7. We conclude that many intensity- and texture-based features remain consistent between the reference standard and our method while substantially reducing the amount of operator time required.
View details for DOI 10.18383/j.tom.2016.00163
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5466872