PURPOSE: To develop and evaluate a fully-automated deep learning-based method for assessment of intracranial internal carotid artery calcification (ICAC).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a secondary analysis of prospectively collected data from the Rotterdam study (2003-2006) to develop and validate a deep learning-based method for automated ICAC delineation and volume measurement. Two observers manually delineated ICAC on noncontrast CT scans of 2319 participants (mean age, 69 years ± 7 [standard deviation]; 1154 women [53.2%]), and a deep learning model was trained to segment ICAC and quantify its volume. Model performance was assessed by comparing manual and automated segmentations and volume measurements to those produced by an independent observer (available on 47 scans), comparing the segmentation accuracy in a blinded qualitative visual comparison by an expert observer, and comparing the association with first stroke incidence from the scan date until 2016. All method performance metrics were computed using 10-fold cross-validation.
RESULTS: The automated delineation of ICAC reached a sensitivity of 83.8% and positive predictive value (PPV) of 88%. The intraclass correlation between automatic and manual ICAC volume measures was 0.98 (95% CI: 0.97, 0.98; computed in the entire dataset). Measured between the assessments of independent observers, sensitivity was 73.9%, PPV was 89.5%, and intraclass correlation coefficient was 0.91 (95% CI: 0.84, 0.95; computed in the 47-scan subset). In the blinded visual comparisons of 294 regions, automated delineations were judged as more accurate than manual delineations in 131 regions, less accurate in 94 regions, and equally accurate in the rest of the regions (131 of 225, 58.2%; P = .01). The association of ICAC volume with incident stroke was similarly strong for both automated (hazard ratio, 1.38 [95% CI: 1.12, 1.75]) and manually measured volumes (hazard ratio, 1.48 [95% CI: 1.20, 1.87]).
CONCLUSION: The developed model was capable of automated segmentation and volume quantification of ICAC with accuracy comparable to human experts.Keywords CT, Neural Networks, Carotid Arteries, Calcifications/Calculi, Arteriosclerosis, Segmentation, Vision Application Domain, Stroke Supplemental material is available for this article. © RSNA, 2021.