Automated Quantitative Analysis of CT Perfusion to Classify Vascular Phenotypes of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma

T. Perik, N. Alves, J. Hermans and H. Huisman

Cancer 2024;16(3):577.


CT perfusion (CTP) analysis is difficult to implement in clinical practice. Therefore, we investigated a novel semi-automated CTP AI biomarker and applied it to identify vascular phenotypes of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and evaluate their association with overall survival (OS). Methods: From January 2018 to November 2022, 107 PDAC patients were prospectively included, who needed to undergo CTP and a diagnostic contrast-enhanced CT (CECT). We developed a semi-automated CTP AI biomarker, through a process that involved deformable image registration, a deep learning segmentation model of tumor and pancreas parenchyma volume, and a trilinear non-parametric CTP curve model to extract the enhancement slope and peak enhancement in segmented tumors and pancreas. The biomarker was validated in terms of its use to predict vascular phenotypes and their association with OS. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis with five-fold cross-validation was performed. OS was assessed with Kaplan-Meier curves. Differences between phenotypes were tested using the Mann-Whitney U test. Results: The final analysis included 92 patients, in whom 20 tumors (21%) were visually isovascular. The AI biomarker effectively discriminated tumor types, and isovascular tumors showed higher enhancement slopes (2.9 Hounsfield unit HU/s vs. 2.0 HU/s, p < 0.001) and peak enhancement (70 HU vs. 47 HU, p < 0.001); the AUC was 0.86. The AI biomarker's vascular phenotype significantly differed in OS (p < 0.01). Conclusions: The AI biomarker offers a promising tool for robust CTP analysis. In PDAC, it can distinguish vascular phenotypes with significant OS prognostication.