Artificial Intelligence for the Characterization of Pulmonary Nodules, Lung Tumors and Mediastinal Nodes on PET/CT

Marie Manon Krebs Krarup, Georgios Krokos, Manil Subesinghe, Arjun Nair, Barbara Malene Fischer


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer related death around the world although early diagnosis remains vital to enabling access to curative treatment options. This article briefly describes the current role of imaging, in particular 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose (FDG) PET/CT, in lung cancer and specifically the role of artificial intelligence with CT followed by a detailed review of the published studies applying artificial intelligence (ie, machine learning and deep learning), on FDG PET or combined PET/CT images with the purpose of early detection and diagnosis of pulmonary nodules, and characterization of lung tumors and mediastinal lymph nodes. A comprehensive search was performed on Pubmed, Embase, and clinical trial databases. The studies were analyzed with a modified version of the Transparent Reporting of a multivariable prediction model for Individual Prognosis or Diagnosis (TRIPOD) and Prediction model Risk Of Bias Assessment Tool (PROBAST) statement. The search resulted in 361 studies; of these 29 were included; all retrospective; none were clinical trials. Twenty-two records evaluated standard machine learning (ML) methods on imaging features (ie, support vector machine), and 7 studies evaluated new ML methods (ie, deep learning) applied directly on PET or PET/CT images. The studies mainly reported positive results regarding the use of ML methods for diagnosing pulmonary nodules, characterizing lung tumors and mediastinal lymph nodes. However, 22 of the 29 studies were lacking a relevant comparator and/or lacking independent testing of the model. Application of ML methods with feature and image input from PET/CT for diagnosing and characterizing lung cancer is a relatively young area of research with great promise. Nevertheless, current published studies are often under-powered and lacking a clinically relevant comparator and/or independent testing.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSeminars in Nuclear Medicine
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)143-156
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms/diagnostic imaging
  • Lymph Nodes
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Retrospective Studies


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