A use of a neural network to evaluate contrast enhancement curves in breast magnetic resonance images
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For the diagnosis of breast cancer using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), one of the most important parameters is the analysis of contrast enhancement. A threedimensional MR sequence is applied before and five times after bolus injection of paramagnetic contrast medium (Gd-DTPA). The dynamics of absorption are described by a time/intensity enhancement curve, which reports the mean intensity of the MR signal in a small region of interest (ROI) for about 8 minutes after contrast injection. The aim of our study was to use an artificial neural network to automatically classify the enhancement curves as “benign” or “malignant.” We used a classic feed-forward back-propagation neural network, with three layers: five input nodes, two hidden nodes, and one output node. The network has been trained with 26 pathologic curves (10 invasive carcinoma [K], two carcinoma-in-situ [DCIS], and 14 benign lesion [B]). The trained network has been tested with 58 curves (36 K, one DCIS, 21 B). The network was able to correctly identify the test curves with a sensitivity of 76% and a specificity of 90%. For comparison, the same set of curves was analyzed separately by two radiologists (a breast MR expert and a resident radiologist). The first correctly interpreted the curves with a sensitivity of 76% and a specificity of 90%, while the second scored 59% for sensitivity and 90% for specificity. These results demonstrate that a trained neural network recognizes the pathologic curves at least as well as an expert radiologist. This algorithm can help the radiologist attain rapid and affordable screening of a large number of ROIs. A complete automatic computer-aided diagnosis support system should find a number of potentially interesting ROIs and automatically analyze the enhancement curves for each ROI by neural networks, reporting to the radiologist only the potentially pathologic ROIs for a more accurate, manual, repeated evaluation.
KeywordsNeural Network Hide Node Input Node Breast Magnetic Resonance Image Trained Network
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