Three-dimensional textural features of conventional MRI improve diagnostic classification of childhood brain tumours

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The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of three‐dimensional texture analysis (3D TA) of conventional MR images for the classification of childhood brain tumours in a quantitative manner. The dataset comprised pre‐contrast T1‐ and T2‐weighted MRI series obtained from 48 children diagnosed with brain tumours (medulloblastoma, pilocytic astrocytoma and ependymoma). 3D and 2D TA were carried out on the images using first‐, second‐ and higher order statistical methods. Six supervised classification algorithms were trained with the most influential 3D and 2D textural features, and their performances in the classification of tumour types, using the two feature sets, were compared. Model validation was carried out using the leave‐one‐out cross‐validation (LOOCV) approach, as well as stratified 10‐fold cross‐validation, in order to provide additional reassurance. McNemar's test was used to test the statistical significance of any improvements demonstrated by 3D‐trained classifiers. Supervised learning models trained with 3D textural features showed improved classification performances to those trained with conventional 2D features. For instance, a neural network classifier showed 12% improvement in area under the receiver operator characteristics curve (AUC) and 19% in overall classification accuracy. These improvements were statistically significant for four of the tested classifiers, as per McNemar's tests. This study shows that 3D textural features extracted from conventional T1‐ and T2‐weighted images can improve the diagnostic classification of childhood brain tumours. Long‐term benefits of accurate, yet non‐invasive, diagnostic aids include a reduction in surgical procedures, improvement in surgical and therapy planning, and support of discussions with patients' families. It remains necessary, however, to extend the analysis to a multicentre cohort in order to assess the scalability of the techniques used.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1174-1184
Number of pages11
JournalNMR in biomedicine
Issue number9
Early online date9 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015


  • 3D texture analysis, T1- and T2-weighted MRI, paediatric brain tumours, classification, machine learning