Performance of e-ASPECTS software in comparison to that of stroke physicians on assessing CT scans of acute ischemic stroke patients

Int J Stroke. 2016 Jun;11(4):438-45. doi: 10.1177/1747493016632244. Epub 2016 Feb 15.


Background: The Alberta Stroke Program Early CT score (ASPECTS) is an established 10-point quantitative topographic computed tomography scan score to assess early ischemic changes. We compared the performance of the e-ASPECTS software with those of stroke physicians at different professional levels.

Methods: The baseline computed tomography scans of acute stroke patients, in whom computed tomography and diffusion-weighted imaging scans were obtained less than two hours apart, were retrospectively scored by e-ASPECTS as well as by three stroke experts and three neurology trainees blinded to any clinical information. The ground truth was defined as the ASPECTS on diffusion-weighted imaging scored by another two non-blinded independent experts on consensus basis. Sensitivity and specificity in an ASPECTS region-based and an ASPECTS score-based analysis as well as receiver-operating characteristic curves, Bland-Altman plots with mean score error, and Matthews correlation coefficients were calculated. Comparisons were made between the human scorers and e-ASPECTS with diffusion-weighted imaging being the ground truth. Two methods for clustered data were used to estimate sensitivity and specificity in the region-based analysis.

Results: In total, 34 patients were included and 680 (34 × 20) ASPECTS regions were scored. Mean time from onset to computed tomography was 172 ± 135 min and mean time difference between computed tomographyand magnetic resonance imaging was 41 ± 31 min. The region-based sensitivity (46.46% [CI: 30.8;62.1]) of e-ASPECTS was better than three trainees and one expert (p ≤ 0.01) and not statistically different from another two experts. Specificity (94.15% [CI: 91.7;96.6]) was lower than one expert and one trainee (p < 0.01) and not statistically different to the other four physicians. e-ASPECTS had the best Matthews correlation coefficient of 0.44 (experts: 0.38 ± 0.08 and trainees: 0.19 ± 0.05) and the lowest mean score error of 0.56 (experts: 1.44 ± 1.79 and trainees: 1.97 ± 2.12).

Conclusion: e-ASPECTS showed a similar performance to that of stroke experts in the assessment of brain computed tomographys of acute ischemic stroke patients with the Alberta Stroke Program Early CT score method.

Keywords: Alberta Stroke Program Early CT score; computed tomography; ischemic stroke; machine learning.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alberta
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated
  • Physicians*
  • Prospective Studies
  • ROC Curve
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Software*
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging*
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*