A Deep Learning Approach to Predicting Collateral Flow in Stroke Patients Using Radiomic Features from Perfusion Images

Collateral circulation results from specialized anastomotic channels which are capable of providing oxygenated blood to regions with compromised blood flow caused by ischemic injuries. The quality of collateral circulation has been established as a key factor in determining the likelihood of a favorable clinical outcome and goes a long way to determine the choice of stroke care model - that is the decision to transport or treat eligible patients immediately. Though there exist several imaging methods and grading criteria for quantifying collateral blood flow, the actual grading is mostly done through manual inspection of the acquired images. This approach is associated with a number of challenges. First, it is time-consuming - the clinician needs to scan through several slices of images to ascertain the region of interest before deciding on what severity grade to assign to a patient. Second, there is a high tendency for bias and inconsistency in the final grade assigned to a patient depending on the experience level of the clinician. We present a deep learning approach to predicting collateral flow grading in stroke patients based on radiomic features extracted from MR perfusion data. First, we formulate a region of interest detection task as a reinforcement learning problem and train a deep learning network to automatically detect the occluded region within the 3D MR perfusion volumes. Second, we extract radiomic features from the obtained region of interest through local image descriptors and denoising auto-encoders. Finally, we apply a convolutional neural network and other machine learning classifiers to the extracted radiomic features to automatically predict the collateral flow grading of the given patient volume as one of three severity classes - no flow (0), moderate flow (1), and good flow (2)...

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