Weakly supervised spatial relation extraction from radiology reports

JAMIA Open. 2023 Apr 22;6(2):ooad027. doi: 10.1093/jamiaopen/ooad027. eCollection 2023 Jul.


OBJECTIVE: Weak supervision holds significant promise to improve clinical natural language processing by leveraging domain resources and expertise instead of large manually annotated datasets alone. Here, our objective is to evaluate a weak supervision approach to extract spatial information from radiology reports.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Our weak supervision approach is based on data programming that uses rules (or labeling functions) relying on domain-specific dictionaries and radiology language characteristics to generate weak labels. The labels correspond to different spatial relations that are critical to understanding radiology reports. These weak labels are then used to fine-tune a pretrained Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) model.

RESULTS: Our weakly supervised BERT model provided satisfactory results in extracting spatial relations without manual annotations for training (spatial trigger F1: 72.89, relation F1: 52.47). When this model is further fine-tuned on manual annotations (relation F1: 68.76), performance surpasses the fully supervised state-of-the-art.

DISCUSSION: To our knowledge, this is the first work to automatically create detailed weak labels corresponding to radiological information of clinical significance. Our data programming approach is (1) adaptable as the labeling functions can be updated with relatively little manual effort to incorporate more variations in radiology language reporting formats and (2) generalizable as these functions can be applied across multiple radiology subdomains in most cases.

CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate a weakly supervision model performs sufficiently well in identifying a variety of relations from radiology text without manual annotations, while exceeding state-of-the-art results when annotated data are available.

PMID:37096148 | PMC:PMC10122604 | DOI:10.1093/jamiaopen/ooad027


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