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In Informatics in medicine unlocked

Background : Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a leading cause of death worldwide, and the diagnostic process comprises of invasive testing with coronary angiography and non-invasive imaging, in addition to history, clinical examination, and electrocardiography (ECG). A highly accurate assessment of CAD lies in perfusion imaging which is performed by myocardial perfusion scintigraphy (MPS) and magnetic resonance imaging (stress CMR). Recently deep learning has been increasingly applied on perfusion imaging for better understanding of the diagnosis, safety, and outcome of CAD.The aim of this review is to summarise the evidence behind deep learning applications in myocardial perfusion imaging.

Methods : A systematic search was performed on MEDLINE and EMBASE databases, from database inception until September 29, 2020. This included all clinical studies focusing on deep learning applications and myocardial perfusion imaging, and excluded competition conference papers, simulation and animal studies, and studies which used perfusion imaging as a variable with different focus. This was followed by review of abstracts and full texts. A meta-analysis was performed on a subgroup of studies which looked at perfusion images classification. A summary receiver-operating curve (SROC) was used to compare the performance of different models, and area under the curve (AUC) was reported. Effect size, risk of bias and heterogeneity were tested.

Results : 46 studies in total were identified, the majority were MPS studies (76%). The most common neural network was convolutional neural network (CNN) (41%). 13 studies (28%) looked at perfusion imaging classification using MPS, the pooled diagnostic accuracy showed AUC = 0.859. The summary receiver operating curve (SROC) comparison showed superior performance of CNN (AUC = 0.894) compared to MLP (AUC = 0.848). The funnel plot was asymmetrical, and the effect size was significantly different with p value < 0.001, indicating small studies effect and possible publication bias. There was no significant heterogeneity amongst studies according to Q test (p = 0.2184).

Conclusion : Deep learning has shown promise to improve myocardial perfusion imaging diagnostic accuracy, prediction of patients' events and safety. More research is required in clinical applications, to achieve better care for patients with known or suspected CAD.

Alskaf Ebraham, Dutta Utkarsh, Scannell Cian M, Chiribiri Amedeo


Cardiac magnetic resonance, Coronary artery disease, Deep learning, Myocardial perfusion imaging