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In Translational vision science & technology

Purpose : To assess whether a generative adversarial network (GAN) could synthesize realistic optical coherence tomography (OCT) images that satisfactorily serve as the educational images for retinal specialists, and the training datasets for the classification of various retinal disorders using deep learning (DL).

Methods : The GANs architecture was adopted to synthesize high-resolution OCT images trained on a publicly available OCT dataset, including urgent referrals (37,206 OCT images from eyes with choroidal neovascularization, and 11,349 OCT images from eyes with diabetic macular edema) and nonurgent referrals (8617 OCT images from eyes with drusen, and 51,140 OCT images from normal eyes). Four hundred real and synthetic OCT images were evaluated by two retinal specialists (with over 10 years of clinical retinal experience) to assess image quality. We further trained two DL models on either real or synthetic datasets and compared the performance of urgent versus nonurgent referrals diagnosis tested on a local (1000 images from the public dataset) and clinical validation dataset (278 images from Shanghai Shibei Hospital).

Results : The image quality of real versus synthetic OCT images was similar as assessed by two retinal specialists. The accuracy of discrimination of real versus synthetic OCT images was 59.50% for retinal specialist 1 and 53.67% for retinal specialist 2. For the local dataset, the DL model trained on real (DL_Model_R) and synthetic OCT images (DL_Model_S) had an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.99, and 0.98, respectively. For the clinical dataset, the AUC was 0.94 for DL_Model_R and 0.90 for DL_Model_S.

Conclusions : The GAN synthetic OCT images can be used by clinicians for educational purposes and for developing DL algorithms.

Translational Relevance : The medical image synthesis based on GANs is promising in humans and machines to fulfill clinical tasks.

Zheng Ce, Xie Xiaolin, Zhou Kang, Chen Bang, Chen Jili, Ye Haiyun, Li Wen, Qiao Tong, Gao Shenghua, Yang Jianlong, Liu Jiang


deep learning, generative adversarial networks, optical coherence tomography, retinal disorders