Google Research

Artificial intelligence assistance improves Gleason grading of prostate needle core biopsies

JAMA Network Open (2020)


Importance: Expert-level artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms for prostate biopsy grading have recently been developed. However, the potential impact of integrating such algorithms into pathologist workflows remains largely unexplored.

Objective: To evaluate an expert-level AI-based assistive tool when used by pathologists for the grading of prostate biopsies.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This diagnostic study used a fully crossed multiple-reader, multiple-case design to evaluate an AI-based assistive tool for prostate biopsy grading. Retrospective grading of prostate core needle biopsies from 2 independent medical laboratories in the US was performed between October 2019 and January 2020. A total of 20 general pathologists reviewed 240 prostate core needle biopsies from 240 patients. Each pathologist was randomized to 1 of 2 study cohorts. The 2 cohorts reviewed every case in the opposite modality (with AI assistance vs without AI assistance) to each other, with the modality switching after every 10 cases. After a minimum 4-week washout period for each batch, the pathologists reviewed the cases for a second time using the opposite modality. The pathologist-provided grade group for each biopsy was compared with the majority opinion of urologic pathology subspecialists.

Exposure: An AI-based assistive tool for Gleason grading of prostate biopsies.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Agreement between pathologists and subspecialists with and without the use of an AI-based assistive tool for the grading of all prostate biopsies and Gleason grade group 1 biopsies.

Results: Biopsies from 240 patients (median age, 67 years; range, 39-91 years) with a median prostate-specific antigen level of 6.5 ng/mL (range, 0.6-97.0 ng/mL) were included in the analyses. Artificial intelligence–assisted review by pathologists was associated with a 5.6% increase (95% CI, 3.2%-7.9%; P < .001) in agreement with subspecialists (from 69.7% for unassisted reviews to 75.3% for assisted reviews) across all biopsies and a 6.2% increase (95% CI, 2.7%-9.8%; P = .001) in agreement with subspecialists (from 72.3% for unassisted reviews to 78.5% for assisted reviews) for grade group 1 biopsies. A secondary analysis indicated that AI assistance was also associated with improvements in tumor detection, mean review time, mean self-reported confidence, and interpathologist agreement.

Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, the use of an AI-based assistive tool for the review of prostate biopsies was associated with improvements in the quality, efficiency, and consistency of cancer detection and grading.

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