Practical guidelines for handling head and neck computed tomography artifacts for quantitative image analysis

Rachel B. Ger, Daniel F. Craft, Dennis S. Mackin, Shouhao Zhou, Rick R. Layman, A. Kyle Jones, Hesham Elhalawani, Clifton D. Fuller, Rebecca M. Howell, Heng Li, R. Jason Stafford, Laurence E. Court

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Radiomics studies have demonstrated the potential use of quantitative image features to improve prognostic stratification of patients with head and neck cancer. Imaging protocol parameters that can affect radiomics feature values have been investigated, but the effects of artifacts caused by intrinsic patient factors have not. Two such artifacts that are common in patients with head and neck cancer are streak artifacts caused by dental fillings and beam-hardening artifacts caused by bone. The purpose of this study was to test the impact of these artifacts and if needed, methods for compensating for these artifacts in head and neck radiomics studies. The robustness of feature values was tested by removing slices of the gross tumor volume (GTV) on computed tomography images from 30 patients with head and neck cancer; these images did not have streak artifacts or had artifacts far from the GTV. The range of each feature value over a percentage of the GTV was compared to the inter-patient variability at full volume. To determine the effects of beam-hardening artifacts, we scanned a phantom with 5 cartridges of different materials encased in polystyrene buildup. A cylindrical hole through the cartridges contained either a rod of polylactic acid to simulate water or a rod of polyvinyl chloride to simulate bone. A region of interest was drawn in each cartridge flush with the rod. Most features were robust with up to 50% of the original GTV removed. Most feature values did not significantly differ when measured with the polylactic acid rod or the polyvinyl chloride rod. Of those that did, the size of the difference did not exceed the inter-patient standard deviation in most cases. We conclude that simply removing slices affected by streak artifacts can enable these scans to be included in radiomics studies and that contours of structures can abut bone without being affected by beam hardening if needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-139
Number of pages6
JournalComputerized Medical Imaging and Graphics
StatePublished - Nov 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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