Determining age and sex-specific distribution of pancreatic whole-gland CT attenuation using artificial intelligence aided image segmentation: Associations with body composition and pancreatic cancer risk
Laurens P Janssens, Alexander D Weston, Dhruv Singh, Grant Spears, William S Harmsen, Naoki Takahashi, Kenneth A Philbrick, Bradley J Erickson, Barham K Abu Dayyeh, Suresh T Chari, Vinay Chandrasekhara, Ferga C Gleeson, Michael J Levy, Randall K Pearson, Bret T Petersen, Santhi Swaroop Vege, Shounak Majumder
Pancreatology . 2021 Aug 18;S1424-3903(21)00527-5. doi: 10.1016/j.pan.2021.08.004. Online ahead of print.
Background & aims: Increased intrapancreatic fat is associated with pancreatic diseases; however, there are no established objective diagnostic criteria for fatty pancreas. On non-contrast computed tomography (CT), adipose tissue shows negative Hounsfield Unit (HU) attenuations (-150 to -30 HU). Using whole organ segmentation on non-contrast CT, we aimed to describe whole gland pancreatic attenuation and establish 5th and 10th percentile thresholds across a spectrum of age and sex. Subsequently, we aimed to evaluate the association between low pancreatic HU and risk of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).
Methods: The whole pancreas was segmented in 19,456 images from 469 non-contrast CT scans. A convolutional neural network was trained to assist pancreas segmentation. Mean pancreatic HU, volume, and body composition metrics were calculated. The lower 5th and 10th percentile for mean pancreatic HU were identified, examining the association with age and sex. Pre-diagnostic CT scans from patients who later developed PDAC were compared to cancer-free controls.
Results: Less than 5th percentile mean pancreatic HU was significantly associated with increase in BMI (OR 1.07; 1.03-1.11), visceral fat (OR 1.37; 1.15-1.64), total abdominal fat (OR 1.12; 1.03-1.22), and diabetes mellitus type 1 (OR 6.76; 1.68-27.28). Compared to controls, pre-diagnostic scans in PDAC cases had lower mean whole gland pancreatic HU (-0.2 vs 7.8, p = 0.026).
Conclusion: In this study, we report age and sex-specific distribution of pancreatic whole-gland CT attenuation. Compared to controls, mean whole gland pancreatic HU is significantly lower in the pre-diagnostic phase of PDAC.
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