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Remote Tool-based Adjudication for Grading Diabetic Retinopathy

Mike Schaekermann
Tayyeba Ali
Brian Basham
Will Chen
Xiang Ji
Lily Peng
Edith Law
Translational Vision Science & Technology (TVST) (2019)


Purpose: To present and evaluate a remote, tool-based system and structured grading rubric for adjudicating image-based diabetic retinopathy (DR) grades. Methods: We compared three different procedures for adjudicating DR severity assessments among retina specialist panels, including (1) in-person adjudication based on a previously described procedure (Baseline), (2) remote, tool-based adjudication for assessing DR severity alone (TA), and (3) remote, tool-based adjudication using a feature-based rubric (TA-F). We developed a system allowing graders to review images remotely and asynchronously. For both TA and TA-F approaches, images with disagreement were reviewed by all graders in a round-robin fashion until disagreements were resolved. Five panels of three retina specialists each adjudicated a set of 499 retinal fundus images (1 panel using Baseline, 2 using TA, and 2 using TA-F adjudication). Reliability was measured as grade agreement among the panels using Cohen's quadratically weighted kappa. Efficiency was measured as the number of rounds needed to reach a consensus for tool-based adjudication. Results: The grades from remote, tool-based adjudication showed high agreement with the Baseline procedure, with Cohen's kappa scores of 0.948 and 0.943 for the two TA panels, and 0.921 and 0.963 for the two TA-F panels. Cases adjudicated using TA-F were resolved in fewer rounds compared with TA (P < 0.001; standard permutation test). Conclusions: Remote, tool-based adjudication presents a flexible and reliable alternative to in-person adjudication for DR diagnosis. Feature-based rubrics can help accelerate consensus for tool-based adjudication of DR without compromising label quality. Translational Relevance: This approach can generate reference standards to validate automated methods, and resolve ambiguous diagnoses by integrating into existing telemedical workflows.