Combination of active transfer learning and natural language processing to improve liver volumetry using surrogate metrics with deep learning

Brett Marinelli, Martin Kang, Michael Martini, John R. Zech, Joseph Titano, Samuel Cho, Anthony B. Costa, Eric K. Oermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine if weakly supervised learning with surrogate metrics and active transfer learning can hasten clinical deployment of deep learning models. Materials and Methods: By leveraging Liver Tumor Segmentation (LiTS) challenge 2017 public data (n = 131 studies), natural language processing of reports, and an active learning method, a model was trained to segment livers on 239 retrospectively collected portal venous phase abdominal CT studies obtained between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2016. Absolute volume differences between predicted and originally reported liver volumes were used to guide active learning and assess accuracy. Overall survival based on liver volumes predicted by this model (n = 34 patients) versus radiology reports and Model for End-Stage Liver Disease with sodium (MELD-Na) scores was assessed. Differences in absolute liver volume were compared by using the paired Student t test, Bland-Altman analysis, and intraclass correlation; survival analysis was performed with the Kaplan-Meier method and a Mantel-Cox test. Results: Data from patients with poor liver volume prediction (n = 10) with a model trained only with publicly available data were incorporated into an active learning method that trained a new model (LiTS data plus over-and underestimated active learning cases [LiTS-OU]) that performed significantly better on a held-out institutional test set (absolute volume difference of 231 vs 176 mL, P =.0005). In overall survival analysis, predicted liver volumes using the best active learning-trained model (LiTS-OU) were at least comparable with liver volumes extracted from radiology reports and MELD-Na scores in predicting survival. Conclusion: Active transfer learning using surrogate metrics facilitated deployment of deep learning models for clinically meaningful liver segmentation at a major liver transplant center.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere180019
JournalRadiology: Artificial Intelligence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


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