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Title: Virtual CT Myelography: A Patch-Based Machine Learning Model to Improve Intraspinal Soft Tissue Visualization on Unenhanced Dual-Energy Lumbar Spine CT
Authors: Nguyen, Xuan, V
Nelakurti, Devi D.
Dikici, Engin
Candemir, Sema
Boulter, Daniel J.
Prevedello, Luciano M.
Keywords: dual-energy computed tomography
spine imaging
spinal canal
spinal cord
convolutional neural networks
CT segmentation
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Mdpi
Abstract: Background: Distinguishing between the spinal cord and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) non-invasively on CT is challenging due to their similar mass densities. We hypothesize that patch-based machine learning applied to dual-energy CT can accurately distinguish CSF from neural or other tissues based on the center voxel and neighboring voxels. Methods: 88 regions of interest (ROIs) from 12 patients' dual-energy (100 and 140 kVp) lumbar spine CT exams were manually labeled by a neuroradiologist as one of 4 major tissue types (water, fat, bone, and nonspecific soft tissue). Four-class classifier convolutional neural networks were trained, validated, and tested on thousands of nonoverlapping patches extracted from 82 ROIs among 11 CT exams, with each patch representing pixel values (at low and high energies) of small, rectangular, 3D CT volumes. Different patch sizes were evaluated, ranging from 3 x 3 x 3 x 2 to 7 x 7 x 7 x 2. A final ensemble model incorporating all patch sizes was tested on patches extracted from six ROIs in a holdout patient. Results: Individual models showed overall test accuracies ranging from 99.8% for 3 x 3 x 3 x 2 patches (N = 19,423) to 98.1% for 7 x 7 x 7 x 2 patches (N = 1298). The final ensemble model showed 99.4% test classification accuracy, with sensitivities and specificities of 90% and 99.6%, respectively, for the water class and 98.6% and 100% for the soft tissue class. Conclusions: Convolutional neural networks utilizing local low-level features on dual-energy spine CT can yield accurate tissue classification and enhance the visualization of intraspinal neural tissue.
ISSN: 2078-2489
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