Prediction of preeclampsia from retinal fundus images via deep learning in singleton pregnancies: a prospective cohort study

J Hypertens. 2024 Jan 16. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000003658. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Early prediction of preeclampsia (PE) is of universal importance in controlling the disease process. Our study aimed to assess the feasibility of using retinal fundus images to predict PE via deep learning in singleton pregnancies.

Methods: This prospective cohort study was conducted at Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine. Eligible participants included singleton pregnancies who presented for prenatal visits before 14 weeks of gestation from September 1, 2020, to February 1, 2022. Retinal fundus images were obtained using a nonmydriatic digital retinal camera during their initial prenatal visit upon admission before 20 weeks of gestation. In addition, we generated fundus scores, which indicated the predictive value of hypertension, using a hypertension detection model. To evaluate the predictive value of the retinal fundus image-based deep learning algorithm for preeclampsia, we conducted stratified analyses and measured the area under the curve (AUC), sensitivity, and specificity. We then conducted sensitivity analyses for validation.

Results: Our study analyzed a total of 1138 women with risk factors for preeclampsia, 92 pregnancies developed into hypertension disorders of pregnancy (HDP), including 26 cases of gestational hypertension and 66 cases of preeclampsia. The adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of the fundus scores was 2.582 (95% CI, 1.883-3.616; P < 0.001). Otherwise, in the categories of prepregnancy BMI less than 28.0 and at least 28.0, the aORs were 3.073 (95%CI, 2.265-4.244; P < 0.001) and 5.866 (95% CI, 3.292-11.531; P < 0.001). In the categories of maternal age less than 35.0 and at least 35.0, the aORs were 2.845 (95% CI, 1.854-4.463; P < 0.001) and 2.884 (95% CI, 1.794-4.942; P < 0.001). The AUC of the fundus score combined with risk factors was 0.883 (sensitivity, 0.722; specificity, 0.934; 95% CI, 0.834-0.932) for predicting preeclampsia.

Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that the use of deep learning algorithm-based retinal fundus images offers promising predictive value for the early detection of preeclampsia.