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In Annals of translational medicine

Background : To develop a deep learning (DL) method based on multiphase, contrast-enhanced (CE) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to distinguish Liver Imaging Reporting and Data System (LI-RADS) grade 3 (LR-3) liver tumors from combined higher-grades 4 and 5 (LR-4/LR-5) tumors for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) diagnosis.

Methods : A total of 89 untreated LI-RADS-graded liver tumors (35 LR-3, 14 LR-4, and 40 LR-5) were identified based on the radiology MRI interpretation reports. Multiphase 3D T1-weighted gradient echo imaging was acquired at six time points: pre-contrast, four phases immediately post-contrast, and one hepatobiliary phase after intravenous injection of gadoxetate disodium. Image co-registration was performed across all phases on the center tumor slice to correct motion. A rectangular tumor box centered on the tumor area was drawn to extract subset tumor images for each imaging phase, which were used as the inputs to a convolutional neural network (CNN). The pre-trained AlexNet CNN model underwent transfer learning using liver MRI data for LI-RADS tumor grade classification. The output probability number closer to 1 or 0 indicated a higher possibility of being combined LR-4/LR-5 tumor or LR-3 tumor, respectively. Five-fold cross validation was used for training (60% dataset), validation (20%) and testing processes (20%).

Results : The DL CNN model for LI-RADS grading using inputs of multiphase liver MRI data acquired at three time points (pre-contrast, arterial, and washout phase) achieved a high accuracy of 0.90, sensitivity of 1.0, precision of 0.835, and AUC of 0.95 with reference to the expert human radiologist report. The CNN output of probability provided radiologists a confidence level of the model's grading for each liver lesion.

Conclusions : An AlexNet CNN model for LI-RADS grading of liver lesions provided diagnostic performance comparable to radiologists and offered valuable clinical guidance for differentiating intermediate LR-3 liver lesions from more-likely malignant LR-4/LR-5 lesions in HCC diagnosis.

Wu Yunan, White Gregory M, Cornelius Tyler, Gowdar Indraneel, Ansari Mohammad H, Supanich Mark P, Deng Jie


Deep learning (DL), LI-RADS, MRI, convolutional neural network (CNN), hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)