Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy is an accurate method for the diagnosis of solid pancreatic masses. However, a significant number of cases still pose a diagnostic challenge. The authors have attempted to design a computer model to aid in the diagnosis of these biopsies.
Images were captured of cell clusters on ThinPrep slides from 75 pancreatic FNA cases (20 malignant, 24 benign, and 31 atypical). A K-means clustering algorithm was used to segment the cell clusters into separable regions of interest before extracting features similar to those used for cytomorphologic assessment. A multilayer perceptron neural network (MNN) was trained and then tested for its ability to distinguish benign from malignant cases.
A total of 277 images of cell clusters were obtained. K-means clustering identified 68,301 possible regions of interest overall. Features such as contour, perimeter, and area were found to be significantly different between malignant and benign images (P <.05). The MNN was 100% accurate for benign and malignant categories. The model's predictions from the atypical data set were 77% accurate.
The results of the current study demonstrate that computer models can be used successfully to distinguish benign from malignant pancreatic cytology. The fact that the model can categorize atypical cases into benign or malignant with 77% accuracy highlights the great potential of this technology. Although further study is warranted to validate its clinical applications in pancreatic and perhaps other areas of cytology as well, the potential for improved patient outcomes using MNN for image analysis in pathology is significant. Cancer Cytopathol 2017;125:926-33. © 2017 American Cancer Society.