Artificial Intelligence

MGH’s Multimodal Thyroid Ultrasound AI

AI Platform

An MGH and Harvard Medical team developed a multimodal ultrasound AI platform that applies an interesting mix of AI techniques to accurately detect and stage thyroid cancer, potentially improving diagnosis and treatment planning.

The Platform – The platform combines radiomics, topological data analysis (TDA), ML-based TI-RADS assessments, and deep learning, allowing them to capture more data, minimize noise, and improve prediction accuracy.

The Study – Starting with 1,346 ultrasound images from 784 patients, the researchers trained the multimodal AI platform with 362 nodules (103 malignant) and validated it against a pair of internal (51 malignant, 98 benign) and external (270 malignant, 50 benign) datasets, finding that:

  • The platform predicted 98.7% of internal dataset malignancies (0.99 AUC)
  • The platform predicted 91.4% of external dataset malignancies (0.94 AUC)
  • The individual AI methods were far less accurate (80% to 89% w/ internal)
  • A version of the platform accurately predicted nodal pathological stages (93% for T-stage, 89% for N-stage, 98% for extrathyroidal extension)
  • The platform predicted BRAF mutations with 96% accuracy

Next Steps – The researchers plan to validate their multimodal platform in prospective multicenter clinical trials, including in low-resource countries where it might be particularly helpful.

The Takeaway

We cover plenty of ultrasound AI and thyroid cancer imaging studies, but this team’s multi-AI approach is unique and appears promising. A multimodal AI platform like this might make thyroid cancer diagnosis more efficient and less subjective, avoid unnecessary biopsies, allow non-invasive staging and mutation assessment, and lead to more personalized treatments. That would be a major accomplishment, and might suggest that similar multimodal AI platforms could be developed for other cancers and imaging modalities.

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