Deep learning approach for automatic landmark detection in whole-spine lateral radiographs

Published by Scientific Report, April 2021

Deep learning approach for automatic landmark detection and alignment analysis in whole-spine lateral radiographs


Human spinal balance assessment relies considerably on sagittal radiographic parameter measurement. Deep learning could be applied for automatic landmark detection and alignment analysis, with mild to moderate standard errors and favourable correlations with manual measurement. In this study, based on 2210 annotated images of various spinal disease aetiologies, we developed deep learning models capable of automatically locating 45 anatomic landmarks and subsequently generating 18 radiographic parameters on a whole-spine lateral radiograph. In the assessment of model performance, the localisation accuracy and learning speed were the highest for landmarks in the cervical area, followed by those in the lumbosacral, thoracic, and femoral areas. All the predicted radiographic parameters were significantly correlated with ground truth values (all p < 0.001). The human and artificial intelligence comparison revealed that the deep learning model was capable of matching the reliability of doctors for 15/18 of the parameters. The proposed automatic alignment analysis system was able to localise spinal anatomic landmarks with high accuracy and to generate various radiographic parameters with favourable correlations with manual measurements.

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