Deep Learning-based Assessment of Hepatic Steatosis on chest CT

Purpose: Automatic methods are required for the early detection of hepatic steatosis to avoid progression to cirrhosis and cancer. Here, we developed a fully automated deep learning pipeline to quantify hepatic steatosis on non-contrast enhanced chest computed tomography (CT) scans. Materials and Methods: We developed and evaluated our pipeline on chest CT images of 1,431 randomly selected National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) participants. A dataset of 451 CT scans with volumetric liver segmentations of expert readers was used for training a deep learning model. For testing, in an independent dataset of 980 CT scans hepatic attenuation was manually measured by an expert reader on three cross-sectional images at different hepatic levels by selecting three circular regions of interest. Additionally, 100 randomly selected cases of the test set were volumetrically segmented by expert readers. Hepatic steatosis on the test set was defined as mean hepatic attenuation of < 40 Hounsfield unit. Spearman correlation was conducted to analyze liver fat quantification accuracy and the Cohen's Kappa coefficient was calculated for hepatic steatosis prediction reliability. Results: Our pipeline demonstrated strong performance and achieved a mean dice score of 0.970 for the volumetric liver segmentation. The spearman correlation of the liver fat quantification was 0.954 (P <0.0001) between the automated and expert reader measurements. The cohen's kappa coefficient was 0.875 for automatic assessment of hepatic steatosis. Conclusion: We developed a fully automatic deep learning-based pipeline for the assessment of hepatic steatosis in chest CT images. With the fast and cheap screening of hepatic steatosis, our pipeline has the potential to help initiate preventive measures to avoid progression to cirrhosis and cancer.

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