Deterministic small-scale undulations of image-based risk predictions from the deep learning of lung tumors in motion

P. Troy Teo, Amishi Bajaj, James Randall, Bin Lou, Jainil Shah, Mahesh Gopalakrishnan, Ali Kamen, Mohamed E. Abazeed*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Deep learning (DL) models that use medical images to predict clinical outcomes are poised for clinical translation. For tumors that reside in organs that move, however, the impact of motion (i.e., degenerated object appearance or blur) on DL model accuracy remains unclear. We examine the impact of tumor motion on an image-based DL framework that predicts local failure risk after lung stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). Methods: We input pre-therapy free breathing (FB) computed tomography (CT) images from 849 patients treated with lung SBRT into a multitask deep neural network to generate an image fingerprint signature (or DL score) that predicts time-to-event local failure outcomes. The network includes a convolutional neural network encoder for extracting imaging features and building a task-specific fingerprint, a decoder for estimating handcrafted radiomic features, and a task-specific network for generating image signature for radiotherapy outcome prediction. The impact of tumor motion on the DL scores was then examined for a holdout set of 468 images from 39 patients comprising: (1) FB CT, (2) four-dimensional (4D) CT, and (3) maximum-intensity projection (MIP) images. Tumor motion was estimated using a 3D vector of the maximum distance traveled, and its association with DL score variance was assessed by linear regression. Findings: The variance and amplitude in 4D CT image-derived DL scores were associated with tumor motion (R2 = 0.48 and 0.46, respectively). Specifically, DL score variance was deterministic and represented by sinusoidal undulations in phase with the respiratory cycle. DL scores, but not tumor volumes, peaked near end-exhalation. The mean of the scores derived from 4D CT images and the score obtained from FB CT images were highly associated (Pearson r = 0.99). MIP-derived DL scores were significantly higher than 4D- or FB-derived risk scores (p < 0.0001). Interpretation: An image-based DL risk score derived from a series of 4D CT images varies in a deterministic, sinusoidal trajectory in a phase with the respiratory cycle. These results indicate that DL models of tumors in motion can be robust to fluctuations in object appearance due to movement and can guide standardization processes in the clinical translation of DL models for patients with lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7347-7356
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • iGray
  • neural network
  • personalized medicine
  • precision medicine
  • radiomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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