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Computed tomography angiography-based radiomics model to identify high-risk carotid plaques.

BACKGROUND: Extracranial atherosclerosis is one of the major causes of stroke. Carotid computed tomography angiography (CTA) is a widely used imaging modality that allows detailed assessments of plaque characteristics. This study aimed to develop and test radiomics models of carotid plaques and perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT) to distinguish symptomatic from asymptomatic plaques and compare the diagnostic value between radiomics models and traditional CTA model.

METHODS: A total of 144 patients with carotid plaques were divided into symptomatic and asymptomatic groups. The traditional CTA model was built by the traditional radiological features of carotid plaques measured on CTA images which were screened by univariate analysis and multivariable logistic regression. We extracted and screened radiomics features from carotid plaques and PVAT. Then, a support vector machine was used for building plaque and PVAT radiomics models, as well as a combined model using traditional CTA features and radiomics features. The diagnostic value between radiomics models and traditional CTA model was compared in identifying symptomatic carotid plaques by Delong method.

RESULTS: The area under curve (AUC) values of traditional CTA model were 0.624 and 0.624 for the training and validation groups, respectively. The plaque radiomics model and PVAT radiomics model achieved AUC values of 0.766, 0.740 and 0.759, 0.618 in the two groups, respectively. Meanwhile, the combined model of plaque and PVAT radiomics features and traditional CTA features had AUC values of 0.883 and 0.840 for the training and validation groups, respectively, and the receiver operating characteristic curves of combined model were significantly better than those of traditional CTA model in the training group (P<0.001) and validation group (P=0.029).

CONCLUSIONS: The combined model of the radiomics features of carotid plaques and PVAT and the traditional CTA features significantly contributes to identifying high-risk carotid plaques compared with traditional CTA model.

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