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Automation of data analysis in molecular cancer imaging and its potential impact on future clinical practice

: Theek, B.; Magnuska, Z.; Gremse, F.; Hahn, H.; Schulz, V.; Kiessling, F.


Methods 188 (2021), S.30-36
ISSN: 1046-2023
Fraunhofer MEVIS ()

Digitalization, especially the use of machine learning and computational intelligence, is considered to dramatically shape medical procedures in the near future. In the field of cancer diagnostics, radiomics, the extraction of multiple quantitative image features and their clustered analysis, is gaining increasing attention to obtain more detailed, reproducible, and meaningful information about the disease entity, its prognosis and the ideal therapeutic option. In this context, automation of diagnostic procedures can improve the entire pipeline, which comprises patient registration, planning and performing an imaging examination at the scanner, image reconstruction, image analysis, and feeding the diagnostic information from various sources into decision support systems. With a focus on cancer diagnostics, this review article reports and discusses how computer-assistance can be integrated into diagnostic procedures and which benefits and challenges arise from it. Besides a strong view on classical imaging modalities like x-ray, CT, MRI, ultrasound, PET, SPECT and hybrid imaging devices thereof, it is outlined how imaging data can be combined with data deriving from patient anamnesis, clinical chemistry, pathology, and different omics. In this context, the article also discusses IT infrastructures that are required to realize this integration in the clinical routine. Although there are still many challenges to comprehensively implement automated and integrated data analysis in molecular cancer imaging, the authors conclude that we are entering a new era of medical diagnostics and precision medicine.