Deep learning based identification of bone scintigraphies containing metastatic bone disease foci

A. Ibrahim, A. Vaidyanathan*, S. Primakov, F. Belmans, F. Bottari, T. Refaee, P. Lovinfosse, A. Jadoul, C. Derwael, F. Hertel, H.C. Woodruff, H.D. Zacho, S. Walsh, W. Vos, M. Occhipinti, F.X. Hanin, P. Lambin, F.M. Mottaghy, R. Hustinx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


PurposeMetastatic bone disease (MBD) is the most common form of metastases, most frequently deriving from prostate cancer. MBD is screened with bone scintigraphy (BS), which have high sensitivity but low specificity for the diagnosis of MBD, often requiring further investigations. Deep learning (DL) - a machine learning technique designed to mimic human neuronal interactions- has shown promise in the field of medical imaging analysis for different purposes, including segmentation and classification of lesions. In this study, we aim to develop a DL algorithm that can classify areas of increased uptake on bone scintigraphy scans.MethodsWe collected 2365 BS from three European medical centres. The model was trained and validated on 1203 and 164 BS scans respectively. Furthermore we evaluated its performance on an external testing set composed of 998 BS scans. We further aimed to enhance the explainability of our developed algorithm, using activation maps. We compared the performance of our algorithm to that of 6 nuclear medicine physicians.ResultsThe developed DL based algorithm is able to detect MBD on BSs, with high specificity and sensitivity (0.80 and 0.82 respectively on the external test set), in a shorter time compared to the nuclear medicine physicians (2.5 min for AI and 30 min for nuclear medicine physicians to classify 134 BSs). Further prospective validation is required before the algorithm can be used in the clinic.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Imaging
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2023


  • Deep learning
  • Metastatic bone disease
  • Bone scintigraphy
  • Activation maps


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