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In European radiology ; h5-index 62.0

OBJECTIVE : To develop a deep learning-based method with information fusion of US images and RF signals for better classification of thyroid nodules (TNs).

METHODS : One hundred sixty-three pairs of US images and RF signals of TNs from a cohort of adult patients were used for analysis. We developed an information fusion-based joint convolutional neural network (IF-JCNN) for the differential diagnosis of malignant and benign TNs. The IF-JCNN contains two branched CNNs for deep feature extraction: one for US images and the other one for RF signals. The extracted features are fused at the backend of IF-JCNN for TN classification.

RESULTS : Across 5-fold cross-validation, the accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) obtained by using the IF-JCNN with both US images and RF signals as inputs for TN classification were respectively 0.896 (95% CI 0.838-0.938), 0.885 (95% CI 0.804-0.941), 0.910 (95% CI 0.815-0.966), and 0.956 (95% CI 0.926-0.987), which were better than those obtained by using only US images: 0.822 (0.755-0.878; p = 0.0044), 0.792 (0.679-0.868, p = 0.0091), 0.866 (0.760-0.937, p = 0.197), and 0.901 (0.855-0.948, p = .0398), or RF signals: 0.767 (0.694-0.829, p < 0.001), 0.781 (0.685-0.859, p = 0.0037), 0.746 (0.625-0.845, p < 0.001), 0.845 (0.786-0.903, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS : The proposed IF-JCNN model filled the gap of just using US images in CNNs to characterize TNs, and it may serve as a promising tool for assisting the diagnosis of thyroid cancer.

KEY POINTS : • Raw radiofrequency signals before ultrasound imaging of thyroid nodules provide useful information that is not carried by ultrasound images. • The information carried by raw radiofrequency signals and ultrasound images for thyroid nodules is complementary. • The performance of deep convolutional neural network for diagnosing thyroid nodules can be significantly improved by fusing US images and RF signals in the model as compared with just using US images.

Liu Zhong, Zhong Shaobin, Liu Qiang, Xie Chenxi, Dai Yunzhu, Peng Chuan, Chen Xin, Zou Ruhai


Deep learning, Diagnosis computer-assisted, Neural networks computer, Thyroid gland, Ultrasonography