Deep learning analysis of left ventricular myocardium in CT angiographic intermediate-degree coronary stenosis improves the diagnostic accuracy for identification of functionally significant stenosis

Eur Radiol. 2019 May;29(5):2350-2359. doi: 10.1007/s00330-018-5822-3. Epub 2018 Nov 12.


Objectives: To evaluate the added value of deep learning (DL) analysis of the left ventricular myocardium (LVM) in resting coronary CT angiography (CCTA) over determination of coronary degree of stenosis (DS), for identification of patients with functionally significant coronary artery stenosis.

Methods: Patients who underwent CCTA prior to an invasive fractional flow reserve (FFR) measurement were retrospectively selected. Highest DS from CCTA was used to classify patients as having non-significant (≤ 24% DS), intermediate (25-69% DS), or significant stenosis (≥ 70% DS). Patients with intermediate stenosis were referred for fully automatic DL analysis of the LVM. The DL algorithm characterized the LVM, and likely encoded information regarding shape, texture, contrast enhancement, and more. Based on these encodings, features were extracted and patients classified as having a non-significant or significant stenosis. Diagnostic performance of the combined method was evaluated and compared to DS evaluation only. Functionally significant stenosis was defined as FFR ≤ 0.8 or presence of angiographic high-grade stenosis (≥ 90% DS).

Results: The final study population consisted of 126 patients (77% male, 59 ± 9 years). Eighty-one patients (64%) had a functionally significant stenosis. The proposed method resulted in improved discrimination (AUC = 0.76) compared to classification based on DS only (AUC = 0.68). Sensitivity and specificity were 92.6% and 31.1% for DS only (≥ 50% indicating functionally significant stenosis), and 84.6% and 48.4% for the proposed method.

Conclusion: The combination of DS with DL analysis of the LVM in intermediate-degree coronary stenosis may result in improved diagnostic performance for identification of patients with functionally significant coronary artery stenosis.

Key points: • Assessment of degree of coronary stenosis on CCTA has consistently high sensitivity and negative predictive value, but has limited specificity for identifying the functional significance of a stenosis. • Deep learning algorithms are able to learn complex patterns and relationships directly from the images without prior specification of which image features represent presence of disease, and thereby may be more sensitive to subtle changes in the LVM caused by functionally significant stenosis. • Addition of deep learning analysis of the left ventricular myocardium to the evaluation of degree of coronary artery stenosis improves diagnostic performance and increases specificity of resting CCTA. This could potentially decrease the number of patients undergoing invasive coronary angiography.

Keywords: Artificial intelligence; Computed tomography angiography; Coronary artery disease; Myocardial ischemia.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Computed Tomography Angiography / methods*
  • Coronary Angiography / methods*
  • Coronary Stenosis / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Stenosis / physiopathology
  • Deep Learning*
  • Female
  • Fractional Flow Reserve, Myocardial / physiology*
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multidetector Computed Tomography / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Ventricular Function, Left / physiology