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In Journal of electrocardiology

BACKGROUND : Early detection and intervention is the cornerstone for appropriate treatment of arrhythmia and prevention of complications and mortality. Although diverse deep learning models have been developed to detect arrhythmia, they have been criticized due to their unexplainable nature. In this study, we developed an explainable deep learning model (XDM) to classify arrhythmia, and validated its performance using diverse external validation data.

METHODS : In this retrospective study, the Sejong dataset comprising 86,802 electrocardiograms (ECGs) was used to develop and internally variate the XDM. The XDM based on a neural network-backed ensemble tree was developed with six feature modules that are able to explain the reasons for its decisions. The model was externally validated using data from 36,961 ECGs from four non-restricted datasets.

RESULTS : During internal and external validation of the XDM, the average area under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUCs) using a 12‑lead ECG for arrhythmia classification were 0.976 and 0.966, respectively. The XDM outperformed a previous simple multi-classification deep learning model that used the same method. During internal and external validation, the AUCs of explainability were 0.925-0.991.

CONCLUSION : Our XDM successfully classified arrhythmia using diverse formats of ECGs and could effectively describe the reason for the decisions. Therefore, an explainable deep learning methodology could improve accuracy compared to conventional deep learning methods, and that the transparency of XDM can be enhanced for its application in clinical practice.

Jo Yong-Yeon, Kwon Joon-Myoung, Jeon Ki-Hyun, Cho Yong-Hyeon, Shin Jae-Hyun, Lee Yoon-Ji, Jung Min-Seung, Ban Jang-Hyeon, Kim Kyung-Hee, Lee Soo Youn, Park Jinsik, Oh Byung-Hee


Arrhythmia, Artificial intelligence, Deep learning, Electrocardiography