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Using machine learning algorithms to review computed tomography scans and assess risk for cardiovascular disease: Retrospective analysis from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST).
Pubmed ID
32745082 (View this publication on the PubMed website)
Digital Object Identifier
PLoS ONE. 2020; Volume 15 (Issue 8): Pages e0236021

Stemmer A, Shadmi R, Bregman-Amitai O, Chettrit D, Blagev D, Orlovsky M, Deutsch L, Elnekave E


BACKGROUND: The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) demonstrated that annual screening with low dose CT in high-risk population was associated with reduction in lung cancer mortality. Nonetheless, the leading cause of mortality in the study was from cardiovascular diseases.

PURPOSE: To determine whether the used machine learning automatic algorithms assessing coronary calcium score (CCS), level of liver steatosis and emphysema percentage in the lungs are good predictors of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality and incidence when applied on low dose CT scans.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Three fully automated machine learning algorithms were used to assess CCS, level of liver steatosis and emphysema percentage in the lung. The algorithms were used on low-dose computed tomography scans acquired from 12,332 participants in NLST.

RESULTS: In a multivariate analysis, association between the three algorithm scores and CVD mortality have shown an OR of 1.72 (p = 0.003), 2.62 (p < 0.0001) for CCS scores of 101-400 and above 400 respectively, and an OR of 1.12 (p = 0.044) for level of liver steatosis. Similar results were shown for the incidence of CVD, OR of 1.96 (p < 0.0001), 4.94 (p < 0.0001) for CCS scores of 101-400 and above 400 respectively. Also, emphysema percentage demonstrated an OR of 0.89 (p < 0.0001). Similar results are shown for univariate analyses of the algorithms.

CONCLUSION: The three automated machine learning algorithms could help physicians to assess the incidence and risk of CVD mortality in this specific population. Application of these algorithms to existing LDCT scans can provide valuable health care information and assist in future research.

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