"Disease-Specific Imaging Utilizing Support Vector Machine Classification of H-scan Parameters: Assessment of Steatosis in a Rat Model"

February 1, 2022

A paper co-authored by PhD student Jihye Baek, Professor Kevin Parker, and collaborators at the University of Texas at Dallas (Dr. Lokesh Basavarajappa and Dr. Kenneth Hoyt) titled "Disease-specific imaging utilizing support vector machine classification of H-scan parameters: assessment of steatosis in a rat model" has been published in IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control. The abstract follows; more information can be found here.


In medical imaging, quantitative measurements have shown promise in identifying diseases by classifying normal versus pathological parameters from tissues. The support vector machine (SVM) has shown promise as a supervised classification algorithm and has been widely used. However, the classification results typically identify a category of abnormal tissues but do not necessarily differentiate progressive stages of a disease. Moreover, the classification result is typically provided independently as a supplement to medical images, which contributes to an overload of information sources in the clinic. Hence, we propose a new imaging method utilizing the SVM to integrate classification results into medical images. This framework is called disease-specific imaging (DSI) that produces a color overlaid highlight on B-mode ultrasound images indicating the type, location, and severity of pathology from different conditions. In this article, the SVM training was performed to construct hyperplanes that can differentiate normal, fibrosis, steatosis, and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) metastases in livers based on ultrasound echoes. Also, cluster centroids for specific diseases define unique disease axes, and the inner product between measured features and any disease axis selected by the SVM quantifies the disease progression. The features were measured from 2794 ultrasound frames using the H-scan analysis, attenuation estimation, and B-mode image analysis. The performance of our proposed DSI method was evaluated for a preclinical model of steatosis ( n = 400 frames). The contribution of each feature was assessed, and the results were compared with ground truth from histology. Moreover, the images generated by our DSI were compared with earlier imaging methods of B-mode, H-scan, and histology. The comparisons demonstrate that DSI images yield higher sensitivity to monitor progressive steatosis than B-mode and H-scan and provide a comparable performance with the histology. For the parameter comparison, DSI and H-scan resulted in similar correlation with histology ( rs = 0.83 ) but higher than attenuation ( rs = 0.73 ) and B-mode ( rs = 0.47 ). Therefore, we conclude that DSI utilizing the SVM applied to steatosis can visually represent the classification results with color highlighting, which can simplify the interpretation of classification compared to the traditional SVM result. We expect that the proposed DSI can be used for any medical imaging modality that can estimate multiple quantitative parameters at high resolution.