Deep Learning to Assess Long-term Mortality From Chest Radiographs

Michael T. Lu, Alexander Ivanov, Thomas Mayrhofer, Ahmed Hosny, Hugo J. W. L. Aerts, Udo Hoffmann

Importance  Chest radiography is the most common diagnostic imaging test in medicine and may also provide information about longevity and prognosis.

Objective  To develop and test a convolutional neural network (CNN) (named CXR-risk) to predict long-term mortality, including noncancer death, from chest radiographs.

Design, Setting, and Participants  In this prognostic study, CXR-risk CNN development (n = 41 856) and testing (n = 10 464) used data from the screening radiography arm of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO) (n = 52 320), a community cohort of asymptomatic nonsmokers and smokers (aged 55-74 years) enrolled at 10 US sites from November 8, 1993, through July 2, 2001. External testing used data from the screening radiography arm of the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) (n = 5493), a community cohort of heavy smokers (aged 55-74 years) enrolled at 21 US sites from August 2002, through April 2004. Data analysis was performed from January 1, 2018, to May 23, 2019.

Exposure  Deep learning CXR-risk score (very low, low, moderate, high, and very high) based on CNN analysis of the enrollment radiograph.

Main Outcomes and Measures  All-cause mortality. Prognostic value was assessed in the context of radiologists’ diagnostic findings (eg, lung nodule) and standard risk factors (eg, age, sex, and diabetes) and for cause-specific mortality.

Results  Among 10 464 PLCO participants (mean [SD] age, 62.4 [5.4] years; 5405 men [51.6%]; median follow-up, 12.2 years [interquartile range, 10.5-12.9 years]) and 5493 NLST test participants (mean [SD] age, 61.7 [5.0] years; 3037 men [55.3%]; median follow-up, 6.3 years [interquartile range, 6.0-6.7 years]), there was a graded association between CXR-risk score and mortality. The very high-risk group had mortality of 53.0% (PLCO) and 33.9% (NLST), which was higher compared with the very low-risk group (PLCO: unadjusted hazard ratio [HR], 18.3 [95% CI, 14.5-23.2]; NLST: unadjusted HR, 15.2 [95% CI, 9.2-25.3]; both P < .001). This association was robust to adjustment for radiologists’ findings and risk factors (PLCO: adjusted HR [aHR], 4.8 [95% CI, 3.6-6.4]; NLST: aHR, 7.0 [95% CI, 4.0-12.1]; both P < .001). Comparable results were seen for lung cancer death (PLCO: aHR, 11.1 [95% CI, 4.4-27.8]; NLST: aHR, 8.4 [95% CI, 2.5-28.0]; both P ≤ .001) and for noncancer cardiovascular death (PLCO: aHR, 3.6 [95% CI, 2.1-6.2]; NLST: aHR, 47.8 [95% CI, 6.1-374.9]; both P < .001) and respiratory death (PLCO: aHR, 27.5 [95% CI, 7.7-97.8]; NLST: aHR, 31.9 [95% CI, 3.9-263.5]; both P ≤ .001).

Conclusions and Relevance  In this study, the deep learning CXR-risk score stratified the risk of long-term mortality based on a single chest radiograph. Individuals at high risk of mortality may benefit from prevention, screening, and lifestyle interventions.

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