Generating retinal flow maps from structural optical coherence tomography with artificial intelligence

by   Cecilia S. Lee, et al.

Despite significant advances in artificial intelligence (AI) for computer vision, its application in medical imaging has been limited by the burden and limits of expert-generated labels. We used images from optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA), a relatively new imaging modality that measures perfusion of the retinal vasculature, to train an AI algorithm to generate vasculature maps from standard structural optical coherence tomography (OCT) images of the same retinae, both exceeding the ability and bypassing the need for expert labeling. Deep learning was able to infer perfusion of microvasculature from structural OCT images with similar fidelity to OCTA and significantly better than expert clinicians (P < 0.00001). OCTA suffers from need of specialized hardware, laborious acquisition protocols, and motion artifacts; whereas our model works directly from standard OCT which are ubiquitous and quick to obtain, and allows unlocking of large volumes of previously collected standard OCT data both in existing clinical trials and clinical practice. This finding demonstrates a novel application of AI to medical imaging, whereby subtle regularities between different modalities are used to image the same body part and AI is used to generate detailed and accurate inferences of tissue function from structure imaging.



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