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In Translational vision science & technology

PURPOSE : To develop and validate a fully automated program for choroidal structure analysis within a 1500-µm-wide region of interest centered on the fovea (deep learning-based choroidal structure assessment program [DCAP]).

METHODS : A total of 2162 fovea-centered radial swept-source optical coherence tomography (SS-OCT) B-scans from 162 myopic children with cycloplegic spherical equivalent refraction ranging from -1.00 to -5.00 diopters were collected to develop the DCAP. Medical Transformer network and Small Attention U-Net were used to automatically segment the choroid boundaries and the nulla (the deepest point within the fovea). Automatic denoising based on choroidal vessel luminance and binarization were applied to isolate choroidal luminal/stromal areas. To further compare the DCAP with the traditional handcrafted method, the luminal/stromal areas and choroidal vascularity index (CVI) values for 20 OCT images were measured by three graders and the DCAP separately. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) and limits of agreement were used for agreement analysis.

RESULTS : The mean ± SD pixel-wise distances from the predicted choroidal inner, outer boundary, and nulla to the ground truth were 1.40 ± 1.23, 5.40 ± 2.24, and 1.92 ± 1.13 pixels, respectively. The mean times required for choroidal structure analysis were 1.00, 438.00 ± 75.88, 393.25 ± 78.77, and 410.10 ± 56.03 seconds per image for the DCAP and three graders, respectively. Agreement between the automatic and manual area measurements was excellent (ICCs > 0.900) but poor for the CVI (0.627; 95% confidence interval, 0.279-0.832). Additionally, the DCAP demonstrated better intersession repeatability.

CONCLUSIONS : The DCAP is faster than manual methods. Also, it was able to reduce the intra-/intergrader and intersession variations to a small extent.

TRANSLATIONAL RELEVANCE : The DCAP could aid in choroidal structure assessment.

Xuan Meng, Wang Wei, Shi Danli, Tong James, Zhu Zhuoting, Jiang Yu, Ge Zongyuan, Zhang Jian, Bulloch Gabriella, Peng Guankai, Meng Wei, Li Cong, Xiong Ruilin, Yuan Yixiong, He Mingguang