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In European radiology ; h5-index 62.0

OBJECTIVES : To train a deep learning model to differentiate between pathologically proven hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and non-HCC lesions including lesions with atypical imaging features on MRI.

METHODS : This IRB-approved retrospective study included 118 patients with 150 lesions (93 (62%) HCC and 57 (38%) non-HCC) pathologically confirmed through biopsies (n = 72), resections (n = 29), liver transplants (n = 46), and autopsies (n = 3). Forty-seven percent of HCC lesions showed atypical imaging features (not meeting Liver Imaging Reporting and Data System [LI-RADS] criteria for definitive HCC/LR5). A 3D convolutional neural network (CNN) was trained on 140 lesions and tested for its ability to classify the 10 remaining lesions (5 HCC/5 non-HCC). Performance of the model was averaged over 150 runs with random sub-sampling to provide class-balanced test sets. A lesion grading system was developed to demonstrate the similarity between atypical HCC and non-HCC lesions prone to misclassification by the CNN.

RESULTS : The CNN demonstrated an overall accuracy of 87.3%. Sensitivities/specificities for HCC and non-HCC lesions were 92.7%/82.0% and 82.0%/92.7%, respectively. The area under the receiver operating curve was 0.912. CNN's performance was correlated with the lesion grading system, becoming less accurate the more atypical imaging features the lesions showed.

CONCLUSION : This study provides proof-of-concept for CNN-based classification of both typical- and atypical-appearing HCC lesions on multi-phasic MRI, utilizing pathologically confirmed lesions as "ground truth."

KEY POINTS : • A CNN trained on atypical appearing pathologically proven HCC lesions not meeting LI-RADS criteria for definitive HCC (LR5) can correctly differentiate HCC lesions from other liver malignancies, potentially expanding the role of image-based diagnosis in primary liver cancer with atypical features. • The trained CNN demonstrated an overall accuracy of 87.3% and a computational time of < 3 ms which paves the way for clinical application as a decision support instrument.

Oestmann Paula M, Wang Clinton J, Savic Lynn J, Hamm Charlie A, Stark Sophie, Schobert Isabel, Gebauer Bernhard, Schlachter Todd, Lin MingDe, Weinreb Jeffrey C, Batra Ramesh, Mulligan David, Zhang Xuchen, Duncan James S, Chapiro Julius


Carcinoma, hepatocellular, Deep learning, Liver neoplasms, Magnetic resonance imaging, Neural networks, computer