RadBERT-CL: Factually-Aware Contrastive Learning For Radiology Report Classification

Proc Mach Learn Res. 2021 Dec;158:196-208.


Radiology reports are unstructured and contain the imaging findings and corresponding diagnoses transcribed by radiologists which include clinical facts and negated and/or uncertain statements. Extracting pathologic findings and diagnoses from radiology reports is important for quality control, population health, and monitoring of disease progress. Existing works, primarily rely either on rule-based systems or transformer-based pre-trained model fine-tuning, but could not take the factual and uncertain information into consideration, and therefore generate false positive outputs. In this work, we introduce three sedulous augmentation techniques which retain factual and critical information while generating augmentations for contrastive learning. We introduce RadBERT-CL, which fuses these information into BlueBert via a self-supervised contrastive loss. Our experiments on MIMIC-CXR show superior performance of RadBERT-CL on fine-tuning for multi-class, multi-label report classification. We illustrate that when few labeled data are available, RadBERT-CL outperforms conventional SOTA transformers (BERT/BlueBert) by significantly larger margins (6-11%). We also show that the representations learned by RadBERT-CL can capture critical medical information in the latent space.

Keywords: Chest-Xray; Classification; Contrastive Learning; Radiology Reports; Thoracic Disorder.