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Development of a Machine Learning Model for Sonographic Assessment of Gestational Age

Chace Lee
Angelica Willis
Christina Chen
Amber Watters
Bethany Stetson
Akib Uddin
Jonny Wong
Rory Pilgrim
Kat Chou
Shravya Ramesh Shetty
Ryan Gomes
JAMA Network Open (2023)


Importance: Fetal ultrasonography is essential for confirmation of gestational age (GA), and accurate GA assessment is important for providing appropriate care throughout pregnancy and for identifying complications, including fetal growth disorders. Derivation of GA from manual fetal biometry measurements (ie, head, abdomen, and femur) is operator dependent and time-consuming. Objective: To develop artificial intelligence (AI) models to estimate GA with higher accuracy and reliability, leveraging standard biometry images and fly-to ultrasonography videos. Design, Setting, and Participants: To improve GA estimates, this diagnostic study used AI to interpret standard plane ultrasonography images and fly-to ultrasonography videos, which are 5- to 10-second videos that can be automatically recorded as part of the standard of care before the still image is captured. Three AI models were developed and validated: (1) an image model using standard plane images, (2) a video model using fly-to videos, and (3) an ensemble model (combining both image and video models). The models were trained and evaluated on data from the Fetal Age Machine Learning Initiative (FAMLI) cohort, which included participants from 2 study sites at Chapel Hill, North Carolina (US), and Lusaka, Zambia. Participants were eligible to be part of this study if they received routine antenatal care at 1 of these sites, were aged 18 years or older, had a viable intrauterine singleton pregnancy, and could provide written consent. They were not eligible if they had known uterine or fetal abnormality, or had any other conditions that would make participation unsafe or complicate interpretation. Data analysis was performed from January to July 2022. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary analysis outcome for GA was the mean difference in absolute error between the GA model estimate and the clinical standard estimate, with the ground truth GA extrapolated from the initial GA estimated at an initial examination. Results: Of the total cohort of 3842 participants, data were calculated for a test set of 404 participants with a mean (SD) age of 28.8 (5.6) years at enrollment. All models were statistically superior to standard fetal biometry–based GA estimates derived from images captured by expert sonographers. The ensemble model had the lowest mean absolute error compared with the clinical standard fetal biometry (mean [SD] difference, −1.51 [3.96] days; 95% CI, −1.90 to −1.10 days). All 3 models outperformed standard biometry by a more substantial margin on fetuses that were predicted to be small for their GA. Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that AI models have the potential to empower trained operators to estimate GA with higher accuracy.