The last week brought two high profile studies underscoring radiology NLP’s potential to improve efficiency and accuracy, showing how the language-based technology can give radiologists a reporting head-start and allow them to enjoy the benefits of AI detection without the disruptions.
AI + NLP for Nodule QA – A new JACR study detailed how Yale New Haven Hospital combined AI and NLP to catch and report more incidental lung nodules in emergency CT scans, without impacting in-shift radiologists. The quality assurance program used a CT AI algorithm to detect suspicious nodules and an NLP tool to analyze radiology reports, flagging only the cases that AI marked as suspicious but the NLP tool marked as negative.
- The AI/NLP program processed 19.2k CT exams over an 8-month period, flagging just 50 cases (0.26%) for a second review.
- Those flagged cases led to 34 reporting changes and 20 patients receiving follow-up imaging recommendations.
- Just as notably, this semi-autonomous process helped rads avoid “thousands of unnecessary notifications” for non-emergent nodules.
NLP Auto-Captions – JAMA highlighted an NLP model that automatically generates free-text captions describing CXR images, streamlining the radiology report writing process. A Shanghai-based team trained the model using 74k unstructured CXR reports labeled for 23 different abnormalities, and tested with 5,091 external CXRs alongside two other caption-generating models.
- The NLP captions reduced radiology residents’ reporting times compared to when they used a normal captioning template or a rule-based captioning model (283 vs. 347 & 296 seconds), especially with abnormal exams (456 vs. 631 & 531 seconds).
- The NLP-generated captions also proved to be most similar to radiologists’ final reports (mean BLEU scores: 0.69 vs. 0.37 & 0.57; on 0-1 scale).
These are far from the first radiology NLP studies, but the fact that these implementations improved efficiency (without sacrificing accuracy) or improved accuracy (without sacrificing efficiency) deserves extra attention at a time when trade-offs are often expected. Also, considering that everyone just spent the last month marveling at what ChatGPT can do, it might be a safe bet that even more impressive language and text-based radiology solutions are on the way.