Artificial intelligence-aided lytic spinal bone metastasis classification on CT scans

Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2023 Oct;18(10):1867-1874. doi: 10.1007/s11548-023-02880-8. Epub 2023 Mar 29.


Purpose: Spinal bone metastases directly affect quality of life, and patients with lytic-dominant lesions are at high risk for neurological symptoms and fractures. To detect and classify lytic spinal bone metastasis using routine computed tomography (CT) scans, we developed a deep learning (DL)-based computer-aided detection (CAD) system.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 2125 diagnostic and radiotherapeutic CT images of 79 patients. Images annotated as tumor (positive) or not (negative) were randomized into training (1782 images) and test (343 images) datasets. YOLOv5m architecture was used to detect vertebra on whole CT scans. InceptionV3 architecture with the transfer-learning technique was used to classify the presence/absence of lytic lesions on CT images showing the presence of vertebra. The DL models were evaluated via fivefold cross-validation. For vertebra detection, bounding box accuracy was estimated using intersection over union (IoU). We evaluated the area under the curve (AUC) of a receiver operating characteristic curve to classify lesions. Moreover, we determined the accuracy, precision, recall, and F1 score. We used the gradient-weighted class activation mapping (Grad-CAM) technique for visual interpretation.

Results: The computation time was 0.44 s per image. The average IoU value of the predicted vertebra was 0.923 ± 0.052 (0.684-1.000) for test datasets. In the binary classification task, the accuracy, precision, recall, F1-score, and AUC value for test datasets were 0.872, 0.948, 0.741, 0.832, and 0.941, respectively. Heat maps constructed using the Grad-CAM technique were consistent with the location of lytic lesions.

Conclusion: Our artificial intelligence-aided CAD system using two DL models could rapidly identify vertebra bone from whole CT images and detect lytic spinal bone metastasis, although further evaluation of diagnostic accuracy is required with a larger sample size.

Keywords: Artificial intelligence; Bone metastasis; Deep learning; Lytic bone metastasis; Spine.

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Bone Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone and Bones
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods