Diagnostic safety of a machine learning-based automatic patient selection algorithm for stress-only myocardial perfusion SPECT

J Nucl Cardiol. 2021 Jul 6. doi: 10.1007/s12350-021-02698-4. Online ahead of print.


Background: Stress-only myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) markedly reduces radiation dose, scanning time, and cost. We developed an automated clinical algorithm to safely cancel unnecessary rest imaging with high sensitivity for obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD).

Methods and results: Patients without known CAD undergoing both MPI and invasive coronary angiography from REFINE SPECT were studied. A machine learning score (MLS) for prediction of obstructive CAD was generated using stress-only MPI and pre-test clinical variables. An MLS threshold with a pre-defined sensitivity of 95% was applied to the automated patient selection algorithm. Obstructive CAD was present in 1309/2079 (63%) patients. MLS had higher area under the receiver operator characteristic curve (AUC) for prediction of CAD than reader diagnosis and TPD (0.84 vs 0.70 vs 0.78, P < .01). An MLS threshold of 0.29 had superior sensitivity than reader diagnosis and TPD for obstructive CAD (95% vs 87% vs 87%, P < .01) and high-risk CAD, defined as stenosis of the left main, proximal left anterior descending, or triple-vessel CAD (sensitivity 96% vs 89% vs 90%, P < .01).

Conclusions: The MLS is highly sensitive for prediction of both obstructive and high-risk CAD from stress-only MPI and can be applied to a stress-first protocol for automatic cancellation of unnecessary rest imaging.

Keywords: Coronary artery disease; Machine learning; Nuclear stress testing; SPECT-MPI; Stress-only.