Objective: To develop and validate deep convolutional neural network (DCNN) models for the diagnosis of adrenal adenoma (AA) using CT. Methods: This retrospective study enrolled 112 patients who underwent abdominal CT (non-contrast, early, and delayed phases) with 107 adrenal lesions (83 AAs and 24 non-AAs) confirmed pathologically and with 8 lesions confirmed by follow-up as metastatic carcinomas. Three patients had adrenal lesions on both sides. We constructed six DCNN models from six types of input images for comparison: non-contrast images only (Model A), delayed phase images only (Model B), three phasic images merged into a 3-channel (Model C), relative washout rate (RWR) image maps only (Model D), non-contrast and RWR maps merged into a 2-channel (Model E), and delayed phase and RWR maps merged into a 2-channel (Model F). These input images were prepared manually with cropping and registration of CT images. Each DCNN model with six convolutional layers was trained with data augmentation and hyperparameter tuning. The optimal threshold values for binary classification were determined from the receiveroperating characteristic curve analyses. We adopted the nested cross-validation method, in which the outer fivefold cross-validation was used to assess the diagnostic performance of the models and the inner fivefold cross-validation was used to tune hyperparameters of the models. Results: The areas under the curve with 95% confidence intervals of Models A–F were 0.94 [0.90, 0.98], 0.80 [0.69, 0.89], 0.97 [0.94, 1.00], 0.92 [0.85, 0.97], 0.99 [0.97, 1.00] and 0.94 [0.86, 0.99], respectively. Model E showed high area under the curve greater than 0.95. Conclusion: DCNN models may be a useful tool for the diagnosis of AA using CT. Advances in knowledge: The current study demonstrates a deep learning-based approach could differentiate adrenal adenoma from non-adenoma using multiphasic CT.
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