ELIXR: Towards a general purpose X-ray artificial intelligence system through alignment of large language models and radiology vision encoders

Shawn Xu
Lin Yang
Timo Kohlberger
Martin Ma
Atilla Kiraly
Sahar Kazemzadeh
Zakkai Melamed
Jungyeon Park
Patricia MacWilliams
Chuck Lau
Preeti Singh
Christina Chen
Mozziyar Etemadi
Sreenivasa Raju Kalidindi
Kat Chou
Shravya Shetty
Daniel Golden
Rory Pilgrim
Krish Eswaran


Our approach, which we call Embeddings for Language/Image-aligned X-Rays, or ELIXR, leverages a language-aligned image encoder combined or grafted onto a fixed LLM, PaLM 2, to perform a broad range of tasks. We train this lightweight adapter architecture using images paired with corresponding free-text radiology reports from the MIMIC-CXR dataset. ELIXR achieved state-of-the-art performance on zero-shot chest X-ray (CXR) classification (mean AUC of 0.850 across 13 findings), data-efficient CXR classification (mean AUCs of 0.893 and 0.898 across five findings (atelectasis, cardiomegaly, consolidation, pleural effusion, and pulmonary edema) for 1% (~2,200 images) and 10% (~22,000 images) training data), and semantic search (0.76 normalized discounted cumulative gain (NDCG) across nineteen queries, including perfect retrieval on twelve of them). Compared to existing data-efficient methods including supervised contrastive learning (SupCon), ELIXR required two orders of magnitude less data to reach similar performance. ELIXR also showed promise on CXR vision-language tasks, demonstrating overall accuracies of 58.7% and 62.5% on visual question answering and report quality assurance tasks, respectively. These results suggest that ELIXR is a robust and versatile approach to CXR AI.