Machine learning applied to HR-pQCT images improves fracture discrimination provided by DXA and clinical risk factors.
Lu S., Fuggle NR., Westbury LD., Breasail MÓ., Bevilacqua G., Ward KA., Dennison EM., Mahmoodi S., Niranjan M., Cooper C.
BACKGROUND: Traditional analysis of High Resolution peripheral Quantitative Computed Tomography (HR-pQCT) images results in a multitude of cortical and trabecular parameters which would be potentially cumbersome to interpret for clinicians compared to user-friendly tools utilising clinical parameters. A computer vision approach (by which the entire scan is 'read' by a computer algorithm) to ascertain fracture risk, would be far simpler. We therefore investigated whether a computer vision and machine learning technique could improve upon selected clinical parameters in assessing fracture risk. METHODS: Participants of the Hertfordshire Cohort Study (HCS) attended research visits at which height and weight were measured; fracture history was determined via self-report and vertebral fracture assessment. Bone microarchitecture was assessed via HR-pQCT scans of the non-dominant distal tibia (Scanco XtremeCT), and bone mineral density measurement and lateral vertebral assessment were performed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) (Lunar Prodigy Advanced). Images were cropped, pre-processed and texture analysis was performed using a three-dimensional local binary pattern method. These image data, together with age, sex, height, weight, BMI, dietary calcium and femoral neck BMD were used in a random-forest classification algorithm. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was used to compare fracture risk identification methods. RESULTS: Overall, 180 males and 165 females were included in this study with a mean age of approximately 76 years and 97 (28 %) participants had sustained a previous fracture. Using clinical risk factors alone resulted in an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.70 (95 % CI: 0.56-0.84), which improved to 0.71 (0.57-0.85) with the addition of DXA-measured BMD. The addition of HR-pQCT image data to the machine learning classifier with clinical risk factors and DXA-measured BMD as inputs led to an improved AUC of 0.90 (0.83-0.96) with a sensitivity of 0.83 and specificity of 0.74. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that using a three-dimensional computer vision method to HR-pQCT scanning may enhance the identification of those at risk of fracture beyond that afforded by clinical risk factors and DXA-measured BMD. This approach has the potential to make the information offered by HR-pQCT more accessible (and therefore) applicable to healthcare professionals in the clinic if the technology becomes more widely available.