Simple Summary: Splenomegaly is a feature of a broad range of diseases including hematological malignancies and non-neoplastic conditions. However, the morphological appearance of an enlarged spleen alone does not necessarily reveal the underlying cause. The application of deep learning could deliver new quantitative imaging biomarkers to identify the underlying etiology of splenomegaly. In this study, a deep learning model was developed to automatically segment and classify splenomegaly in patients with malignant lymphoma versus patients with cirrhotic portal hypertension based on CT images. This model could help identify the underlying disease and triaging malignant cases to ensure timely diagnosis and treatment.
Abstract: Splenomegaly is a common cross-sectional imaging finding with a variety of differential diagnoses. This study aimed to evaluate whether a deep learning model could automatically segment the spleen and identify the cause of splenomegaly in patients with cirrhotic portal hypertension versus patients with lymphoma disease. This retrospective study included 149 patients with splenomegaly on computed tomography (CT) images (77 patients with cirrhotic portal hypertension, 72 patients with lymphoma) who underwent a CT scan between October 2020 and July 2021. The dataset was divided into a training (n = 99), a validation (n = 25) and a test cohort (n = 25). In the first stage, the spleen was automatically segmented using a modified U-Net architecture. In the second stage, the CT images were classified into two groups using a 3D DenseNet to discriminate between the causes of splenomegaly, first using the whole abdominal CT, and second using only the spleen segmentation mask. The classification performances were evaluated using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), accuracy (ACC), sensitivity (SEN), and specificity (SPE). Occlusion sensitivity maps were applied to the whole abdominal CT images, to illustrate which regions were important for the prediction. When trained on the whole abdominal CT volume, the DenseNet was able to differentiate between the lymphoma and liver cirrhosis in the test cohort with an AUC of 0.88 and an ACC of 0.88. When the model was trained on the spleen segmentation mask, the performance decreased (AUC = 0.81, ACC = 0.76). Our model was able to accurately segment splenomegaly and recognize the underlying cause. Training on whole abdomen scans outperformed training using the segmentation mask. Nonetheless, considering the performance, a broader and more general application to differentiate other causes for splenomegaly is also conceivable.