A no-gold-standard technique to objectively evaluate quantitative imaging methods using patient data: Theory

by   Jinxin Liu, et al.
Washington University in St Louis

Objective evaluation of quantitative imaging (QI) methods using measurements directly obtained from patient images is highly desirable but hindered by the non-availability of gold standards. To address this issue, statistical techniques have been proposed to objectively evaluate QI methods without a gold standard. These techniques assume that the measured and true values are linearly related by a slope, bias, and normally distributed noise term, where it is assumed that the noise term between the different methods is independent. However, the noise could be correlated since it arises in the process of measuring the same true value. To address this issue, we propose a new no-gold-standard evaluation (NGSE) technique that models this noise as a multivariate normally distributed term, characterized by a covariance matrix. In this manuscript, we derive a maximum-likelihood-based technique that, without any knowledge of the true QI values, estimates the slope, bias, and covariance matrix terms. These are then used to rank the methods on the basis of precision of the measured QI values. Overall, the derivation demonstrates the mathematical premise behind the proposed NGSE technique.



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