Objectives: To predict tumor grade (G1 vs. G2/3), presence of distant metastasis (M+), metastatic lymph nodes (N+), and microvascular invasion (VI) of pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (PanNEN) based on preoperative CT radiomic features (RFs), by applying a machine learning approach aimed to limit overfit. Methods: This retrospective study included 101 patients who underwent surgery for PanNEN; the entire population was split into training (n = 70) and validation cohort (n = 31). Based on a previously validated methodology, after tumor segmentation on contrast-enhanced CT, RFs were extracted from unenhanced CT images. In addition, conventional radiological and clinical features were combined with RFs into multivariate logistic regression models using minimum redundancy and a bootstrap-based machine learning approach. For each endpoint, models were trained and validated including only RFs (RF_model), and both (radiomic and clinicoradiological) features (COMB_model). Results: Twenty-five patients had G2/G3 tumor, 37 N+, and 14 M+ and 38 were shown to have VI. From a total of 182 RFs initially extracted, few independent radiomic and clinicoradiological features were identified. For M+ and G, the resulting models showed moderate to high performances: areas under the curve (AUC) for training/validation cohorts were 0.85/0.77 (RF_model) and 0.81/0.81 (COMB_model) for M+ and 0.67/0.72 and 0.68/0.70 for G. Concerning N+ and VI, only the COMB_model could be built, with poorer performance for N+ (AUC = 0.72/0.61) compared to VI (0.82/0.75). For all endpoints, the negative predictive value was good (≥ 0.75). Conclusions: Combining few radiomic and clinicoradiological features resulted in presurgical prediction of histological characteristics of PanNENs. Despite the limited risk of overfit, external validations are warranted. Key points: • Histology is the only tool currently available allowing characterization of PanNEN biological characteristics important for prognostic assessment; significant limitations to this approach exist. • Based upon preoperative contrast-enhanced CT images, a machine learning approach optimized to favor models' generalizability was successfully applied to train predictive models for tumor grading (G1 vs. G2/3), microvascular invasion, metastatic lymph nodes, and distant metastatic spread. • Moderate to high discriminative models (AUC: 0.67-0.85) based on few parameters (≤ 3) showing high negative predictive value (0.75-0.98) were generated and then successfully validated.
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