The Bosniak classification attempts to predict the likelihood of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) among cystic renal masses but is subject to interobserver variability and often requires multiphase imaging. Artificial intelligence may provide a more objective assessment. We applied computed tomography texture–based machine learning algorithms to differentiate benign from malignant cystic renal masses.
This is an institutional review board–approved, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act–compliant retrospective study of 147 patients (mean age, 62.4 years; range, 28–89 years; 94 men) with 144 cystic renal masses (93 benign, 51 RCC); 69 were pathology proven (51 RCC, 18 benign), and 75 were considered benign based on more than 4 years of stability at follow-up imaging. Using a single image from a contrast-enhanced abdominal computed tomography scan, mean, SD, mean value of positive pixels, entropy, skewness, and kurtosis radiomics features were extracted. Random forest, multivariate logistic regression, and support vector machine models were used to classify each mass as benign or malignant with 10-fold cross validation. Receiver operating characteristic curves assessed algorithm performance in the aggregated test data.
For the detection of malignancy, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and area under the curve were 0.61, 0.87, 0.72, 0.80, and 0.79 for the random forest model; 0.59, 0.87, 0.71, 0.79, and 0.80 for the logistic regression model; and 0.55, 0.86, 0.68, 0.78, and 0.76 for the support vector machine model.
Computed tomography texture–based machine learning algorithms show promise in differentiating benign from malignant cystic renal masses. Once validated, these may serve as an adjunct to radiologists' assessments.