Solitary pulmonary nodules (SPNs) are a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge for thoracic surgeons. Although such lesions are usually benign, the risk of malignancy remains significant, particularly in elderly patients, who represent a large segment of the affected population. Surgical treatment in this subset, which usually presents several comorbidities, requires careful evaluation, especially when pre-operative biopsy is not feasible and comorbidities may jeopardize the outcome. Radiomics and artificial intelligence (AI) are progressively being applied in predicting malignancy in suspicious nodules and assisting the decision-making process. In this study, we analyzed features of the radiomic images of 71 patients with SPN aged more than 75 years (median 79, IQR 76-81) who had undergone upfront pulmonary resection based on CT and PET-CT findings. Three different machine learning algorithms were applied-functional tree, Rep Tree and J48. Histology was malignant in 64.8% of nodules and the best predictive value was achieved by the J48 model (AUC 0.9). The use of AI analysis of radiomic features may be applied to the decision-making process in elderly frail patients with suspicious SPNs to minimize the false positive rate and reduce the incidence of unnecessary surgery.
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