Improving reference standards for validation of AI-based radiography

Gavin Duggan
Joshua Reicher
Shravya Shetty
British Journal of Radiology(2021)


Objective: Demonstrate the importance of combining multiple readers' opinions, in a context-aware manner, when establishing the reference standard for validation of artificial intelligence (AI) applications for, e.g. chest radiographs. By comparing individual readers, majority vote of a panel, and panel-based discussion, we identify methods which maximize interobserver agreement and label reproducibility. Methods: 1100 frontal chest radiographs were evaluated for 6 findings: airspace opacity, cardiomegaly, pulmonary edema, fracture, nodules, and pneumothorax. Each image was reviewed by six radiologists, first individually and then via asynchronous adjudication (web-based discussion) in two panels of three readers to resolve disagreements within each panel. We quantified the reproducibility of each method by measuring interreader agreement. Results: Panel-based majority vote improved agreement relative to individual readers for all findings. Most disagreements were resolved with two rounds of adjudication, which further improved reproducibility for some findings, particularly reducing misses. Improvements varied across finding categories, with adjudication improving agreement for cardiomegaly, fractures, and pneumothorax. Conclusion: The likelihood of interreader agreement, even within panels of US board-certified radiologists, must be considered before reads can be used as a reference standard for validation of proposed AI tools. Agreement and, by extension, reproducibility can be improved by applying majority vote, maximum sensitivity, or asynchronous adjudication for different findings, which supports the development of higher quality clinical research.

Research Areas