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June 16, 2020 — Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is prevalent worldwide. Among the various therapeutic options, transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) can be applied to the tumor vascular network by restricting the nutrients and oxygen supply to the tumor. Unique morphologic properties of this network may provide information predictive of future therapeutic responses, which would be significant for decision making during treatment planning. The extraction of morphologic features from the tumor vascular network depicted in abdominal contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) images faces several challenges, such as organ motion, limited resolution caused by clutter signal and segmentation of the vascular structures at multiple scales. In this study, we present an image processing and analysis approach for the prediction of HCC response to TACE treatment using clinical CEUS images and known pathologic responses. This method focuses on addressing the challenges of CEUS by incorporating a two-stage motion correction strategy, clutter signal removal, vessel enhancement at multiple scales and machine learning for predictive modeling. The morphologic features, namely, number of vessels (NV), number of bifurcations(NB), vessel to tissue ratio (VR), mean vessel length, tortuosity and diameter, from tumor architecture were quantified from CEUS images of 36 HCC patients before TACE treatment. Our analysis revealed that NV, NB and VR are the dominant features for the prediction of long-term TACE response. The model had an accuracy of 86% with a sensitivity and specificity of 89% and 82%, respectively. Reliable prediction of the TACE therapy response using CEUS-derived image features may help to provide personalized therapy planning, which will ultimately improve patient outcomes.

Authors: Ipek Oezdemir; Corrine E. Wessner; Colette Shaw; John R. Eisenbrey; Kenneth Hoyt

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