A new medical imaging postprocessing and interpretation concept to investigate the clinical relevance of incidentalomas: can we keep Pandora's box closed?

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BACKGROUND: Incidental imaging findings (incidentalomas) are common, but there is currently no effective means to investigate their clinical relevance.

PURPOSE: To introduce a new concept to postprocess a medical imaging examination in a way that incidentalomas are concealed while its diagnostic potential is maintained to answer the referring physician's clinical questions.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A deep learning algorithm was developed to automatically eliminate liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, adrenal glands, lungs, and bone from unenhanced computed tomography (CT). This deep learning algorithm was applied to a separately held set of unenhanced CT scans of 27 patients who underwent CT to evaluate for urolithiasis, and who had a total of 32 incidentalomas in one of the aforementioned organs.

RESULTS: Median visual scores for organ elimination on modified CT were 100% for the liver, gallbladder, spleen, and right adrenal gland, 90%-99% for the pancreas, lungs, and bones, and 80%-89% for the left adrenal gland. In 26 out of 27 cases (96.3%), the renal calyces and pelves, ureters, and urinary bladder were completely visible on modified CT. In one case, a short (<1 cm) trajectory of the left ureter was not clearly visible due to adjacent atherosclerosis that was mistaken for bone by the algorithm. Of 32 incidentalomas, 28 (87.5%) were completely concealed on modified CT.

CONCLUSION: This preliminary technical report demonstrated the feasibility of a new approach to postprocess and evaluate medical imaging examinations that can be used by future prospective research studies with long-term follow-up to investigate the clinical relevance of incidentalomas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2170-2179
Number of pages10
JournalActa Radiologica
Issue number6
Early online date28-Apr-2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2023

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