Classification of breast mass lesions using model-based analysis of the characteristic kinetic curve derived from fuzzy c-means clustering.
ABSTRACT The purpose of this study is to evaluate the diagnostic efficacy of the representative characteristic kinetic curve of dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) extracted by fuzzy c-means (FCM) clustering for the discrimination of benign and malignant breast tumors using a novel computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) system. About the research data set, DCE-MRIs of 132 solid breast masses with definite histopathologic diagnosis (63 benign and 69 malignant) were used in this study. At first, the tumor region was automatically segmented using the region growing method based on the integrated color map formed by the combination of kinetic and area under curve color map. Then, the FCM clustering was used to identify the time-signal curve with the larger initial enhancement inside the segmented region as the representative kinetic curve, and then the parameters of the Tofts pharmacokinetic model for the representative kinetic curve were compared with conventional curve analysis (maximal enhancement, time to peak, uptake rate and washout rate) for each mass. The results were analyzed with a receiver operating characteristic curve and Student's t test to evaluate the classification performance. Accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value of the combined model-based parameters of the extracted kinetic curve from FCM clustering were 86.36% (114/132), 85.51% (59/69), 87.30% (55/63), 88.06% (59/67) and 84.62% (55/65), better than those from a conventional curve analysis. The A(Z) value was 0.9154 for Tofts model-based parametric features, better than that for conventional curve analysis (0.8673), for discriminating malignant and benign lesions. In conclusion, model-based analysis of the characteristic kinetic curve of breast mass derived from FCM clustering provides effective lesion classification. This approach has potential in the development of a CAD system for DCE breast MRI.