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In PloS one ; h5-index 176.0

PURPOSE : Early confirmation or ruling out biliary atresia (BA) is essential for infants with delayed onset of jaundice. In the current practice, percutaneous liver biopsy and intraoperative cholangiography (IOC) remain the golden standards for diagnosis. In Taiwan, the diagnostic methods are invasive and can only be performed in selective medical centers. However, referrals from primary physicians and local pediatricians are often delayed because of lacking clinical suspicions. Ultrasounds (US) are common screening tools in local hospitals and clinics, but the pediatric hepatobiliary US particularly requires well-trained imaging personnel. The meaningful comprehension of US is highly dependent on individual experience. For screening BA through human observation on US images, the reported sensitivity and specificity were achieved by pediatric radiologists, pediatric hepatobiliary experts, or pediatric surgeons. Therefore, this research developed a tool based on deep learning models for screening BA to assist pediatric US image reading by general physicians and pediatricians.

METHODS : De-identified hepatobiliary US images of 180 patients from Taichung Veterans General Hospital were retrospectively collected under the approval of the Institutional Review Board. Herein, the top network models of ImageNet Large Scale Visual Recognition Competition and other network models commonly used for US image recognition were included for further study to classify US images as BA or non-BA. The performance of different network models was expressed by the confusion matrix and receiver operating characteristic curve. There were two methods proposed to solve disagreement by US image classification of a single patient. The first and second methods were the positive-dominance law and threshold law. During the study, the US images of three successive patients suspected to have BA were classified by the trained models.

RESULTS : Among all included patients contributing US images, 41 patients were diagnosed with BA by surgical intervention and 139 patients were either healthy controls or had non-BA diagnoses. In this study, a total of 1,976 original US images were enrolled. Among them, 417 and 1,559 raw images were from patients with BA and without BA, respectively. Meanwhile, ShuffleNet achieved the highest accuracy of 90.56% using the same training parameters as compared with other network models. The sensitivity and specificity were 67.83% and 96.76%, respectively. In addition, the undesired false-negative prediction was prevented by applying positive-dominance law to interpret different images of a single patient with an acceptable false-positive rate, which was 13.64%. For the three consecutive patients with delayed obstructive jaundice with IOC confirmed diagnoses, ShuffleNet achieved accurate diagnoses in two patients.

CONCLUSION : The current study provides a screening tool for identifying possible BA by hepatobiliary US images. The method was not designed to replace liver biopsy or IOC, but to decrease human error for interpretations of US. By applying the positive-dominance law to ShuffleNet, the false-negative rate and the specificities were 0 and 86.36%, respectively. The trained deep learning models could aid physicians other than pediatric surgeons, pediatric gastroenterologists, or pediatric radiologists, to prevent misreading pediatric hepatobiliary US images. The current artificial intelligence (AI) tool is helpful for screening BA in the real world.

Hsu Fang-Rong, Dai Sheng-Tong, Chou Chia-Man, Huang Sheng-Yang