Validation of radiologists' findings by computer-aided detection (CAD) software in breast cancer detection with automated 3D breast ultrasound: a concept study in implementation of artificial intelligence software

Acta Radiol. 2020 Mar;61(3):312-320. doi: 10.1177/0284185119858051. Epub 2019 Jul 19.


Background: Computer-aided detection software for automated breast ultrasound has been shown to have potential in improving the accuracy of radiologists. Alternative ways of implementing computer-aided detection, such as independent validation or preselecting suspicious cases, might also improve radiologists’ accuracy.

Purpose: To investigate the effect of using computer-aided detection software to improve the performance of radiologists by validating findings reported by radiologists during screening with automated breast ultrasound.

Material and Methods: Unilateral automated breast ultrasound exams were performed in 120 women with dense breasts that included 60 randomly selected normal exams, 30 exams with benign lesions, and 30 malignant cases (20 mammography-negative). Eight radiologists were instructed to detect breast cancer and rate lesions using BI-RADS and level-of-suspiciousness scores. Computer-aided detection software was used to check the validity of radiologists' findings. Findings found negative by computer-aided detection were not included in the readers’ performance analysis; however, the nature of these findings were further analyzed. The area under the curve and the partial area under the curve for an interval in the range of 80%–100% specificity before and after validation of computer-aided detection were compared. Sensitivity was computed for all readers at a simulation of 90% specificity.

Results: Partial AUC improved significantly from 0.126 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.098–0.153) to 0.142 (95% CI = 0.115–0.169) (P = 0.037) after computer-aided detection rejected mostly benign lesions and normal tissue scored BI-RADS 3 or 4. The full areas under the curve (0.823 vs. 0.833, respectively) were not significantly different (P = 0.743). Four cancers detected by readers were completely missed by computer-aided detection and four other cancers were detected by both readers and computer-aided detection but falsely rejected due to technical limitations of our implementation of computer-aided detection validation. In this study, validation of computer-aided detection discarded 42.6% of findings that were scored BI-RADS ≥3 by the radiologists, of which 85.5% were non-malignant findings.

Conclusion: Validation of radiologists’ findings using computer-aided detection software for automated breast ultrasound has the potential to improve the performance of radiologists. Validation of computer-aided detection might be an efficient tool for double-reading strategies by limiting the amount of discordant cases needed to be double-read.

Keywords: Breast; artificial intelligence; computer-aided detection; neoplasm; screening; ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Breast / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiologists
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary / methods*