Diagnostic performance of machine learning applied to texture analysis-derived features for breast lesion characterisation at automated breast ultrasound: a pilot study

Authors: Magda Marcon, Alexander Ciritsis, Cristina Rossi, Anton S. Becker, Nicole Berger, Moritz C. Wurnig, Matthias W. Wagner, Thomas Frauenfelder & Andreas Boss

Our aims were to determine if features derived from texture analysis (TA) can distinguish normal, benign, and malignant tissue on automated breast ultrasound (ABUS); to evaluate whether machine learning (ML) applied to TA can categorise ABUS findings; and to compare ML to the analysis of single texture features for lesion classification.

This ethically approved retrospective pilot study included 54 women with benign (n = 38) and malignant (n = 32) solid breast lesions who underwent ABUS. After manual region of interest placement along the lesions’ margin as well as the surrounding fat and glandular breast tissue, 47 texture features (TFs) were calculated for each category. Statistical analysis (ANOVA) and a support vector machine (SVM) algorithm were applied to the texture feature to evaluate the accuracy in distinguishing (i) lesions versus normal tissue and (ii) benign versus malignant lesions.

Skewness and kurtosis were the only TF significantly different among all the four categories (p < 0.000001). In subsets (i) and (ii), a maximum area under the curve of 0.86 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.82–0.88) for energy and 0.86 (95% CI 0.82–0.89) for entropy were obtained. Using the SVM algorithm, a maximum area under the curve of 0.98 for both subsets was obtained with a maximum accuracy of 94.4% in subset (i) and 90.7% in subset (ii).

TA in combination with ML might represent a useful diagnostic tool in the evaluation of breast imaging findings in ABUS. Applying ML techniques to TFs might be superior compared to the analysis of single TF.