Deep learning for noninvasive liver fibrosis classification: A systematic review

Roi Anteby, Eyal Klang, Nir Horesh, Ido Nachmany, Orit Shimon, Yiftach Barash, Uri Kopylov, Shelly Soffer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background and Aims: While biopsy is the gold standard for liver fibrosis staging, it poses significant risks. Noninvasive assessment of liver fibrosis is a growing field. Recently, deep learning (DL) technology has revolutionized medical image analysis. This technology has the potential to enhance noninvasive fibrosis assessment. We systematically examined the application of DL in noninvasive liver fibrosis imaging. Methods: Embase, MEDLINE, Web of Science, and IEEE Xplore databases were used to identify studies that reported on the accuracy of DL for classification of liver fibrosis on noninvasive imaging. The search keywords were “liver or hepatic,” “fibrosis or cirrhosis,” and “neural or DL networks.” Risk of bias and applicability were evaluated using the QUADAS-2 tool. Results: Sixteen studies were retrieved. Imaging modalities included ultrasound (n = 10), computed tomography (n = 3), and magnetic resonance imaging (n = 3). The studies analyzed a total of 40 405 radiological images from 15 853 patients. All but two of the studies were retrospective. In most studies the “ground truth” reference was the METAVIR score for pathological staging (n = 9.56%). The majority of the studies reported an accuracy >85% when compared to histopathology. Fourteen studies (87.5%) had a high risk of bias and concerns regarding applicability. Conclusions: Deep learning has the potential to play an emerging role in liver fibrosis classification. Yet, it is still limited by a relatively small number of retrospective studies. Clinicians should facilitate the use of this technology by sharing databases and standardized reports. This may optimize the noninvasive evaluation of liver fibrosis on a large scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2269-2278
Number of pages10
JournalLiver International
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • deep learning
  • diagnostic imaging
  • liver fibrosis
  • neural networks (computer)


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