In a recent research work, researchers led by QSA's Dr. Daniele Ravi have developed a system that can assess the quality of brain MRI scans. This innovation is poised to transform patient diagnosis and treatment. The research was recently published as "An efficient semi-supervised quality control system trained using physics-based MRI-artefact generators and adversarial training" in Medical Image Analysis
The newly developed system introduces a sophisticated approach to identifying artefacts in brain MRI scans. These artefacts, which are distortions or errors in the images, can significantly impede accurate diagnosis. The system comprises four integral components: first, a novel artefact generator that simulates errors in brain scans, enhancing the machine learning training process. This feature eliminates the need for extensive collections of rare, artefact-containing scans. Second, the system utilizes a comprehensive set of image features for efficient representation and analysis. Third, it applies a targeted feature selection process, tailored to different artefact types, to improve classification accuracy. Lastly, the system incorporates Support Vector Machine (SVM) classifiers, meticulously trained to identify various artefacts.
"Our main objectives in this study are: (i) to determine that brain scans with generated artefacts, obtained by physics-based artefact generators, can be used to augment an available training set and to improve the classification model, especially in comparison with unsupervised approaches based only on learning the artefact-free image distribution (i.e. Schlegl et al. (2019)) and (ii) to combine a pool of brain imaging features that provides a robust and efficient solution to identify scans with artefacts in real-time."
A key highlight of this system is its remarkable efficiency. It has demonstrated an improvement in performance metrics—accuracy, F1 score, precision, and recall—by up to 12.5 percentage points. Furthermore, the system processes each scan in under a second, making it viable for real-time application in clinical environments.
The implications of this technology for patient care and clinical trials are substantial. By enabling the immediate identification of problematic scans, the system reduces the need for repeat hospital visits, thus alleviating patient inconvenience and enhancing the overall patient experience. Moreover, its rapid processing capability can lead to quicker diagnoses, crucial in time-sensitive medical situations.
In addition to patient care, this system offers significant benefits to medical research. By ensuring the integrity of MRI scan data, it enhances the reliability of research studies, thereby contributing to the advancement of medical knowledge and practices.
This new quality control system represents an exciting development. It promises not only to improve the accuracy of brain MRI scans but also to streamline healthcare operations and support medical research, ultimately leading to better health outcomes.