Model Generalizability Investigation for GFCE-MRI Synthesis in NPC Radiotherapy Using Multi-institutional Patient-based Data Normalization


Recently, deep learning has been demonstrated to be feasible in eliminating the use of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) through synthesizing gadolinium-free contrast-enhanced MRI (GFCE-MRI) from contrast-free MRI sequences, pro-viding the community with an alternative to get rid of GBCAs-associated safety issues in patients. Nevertheless, generalizability assessment of the GFCE-MRI model has been largely challenged by the high inter-institutional heterogeneity of MRI data, on top of the scarcity of multi-institutional data itself. Although various data normalization methods have been adopted in previous studies to address the heterogeneity issue, it has been limited to single-institutional investigation and there is no standard normalization approach presently. In this study, we aimed at investigating gener-alizability of GFCE-MRI model using data from seven institutions by manipulating heterogeneity of training MRI data under five popular normalization approaches. Three state-of-the-art neural networks were applied to map from T1-weighted and T2-weighted MRI to contrast-enhanced MRI (CE-MRI) for GFCE-MRI synthesis in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma. MRI data from three institutions were used separately to generate three uni-institution models and jointly for a tri-institution model. The five normalization methods were applied to normalize the training and testing data of each model. MRI data from the remaining four institutions served as external cohorts for model generalizability assessment. Quality of GFCE-MRI was quantitatively evaluated against ground-truth CE-MRI using mean absolute error (MAE) and peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR). Results showed that performance of all uni-institution models remarkably dropped on the external cohorts. By contrast, model trained using multi-institutional data with Z-Score normalization yielded the best model generalizability improvement.

IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics
Jens Kleesiek
Jens Kleesiek
Professor of Translational Image-guided Oncology