New AI technology significantly improves human kidney analysis

January 11, 2018, Boston University School of Medicine
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The ability to quantify the extent of kidney damage and predict the life remaining in the kidney, using an image obtained at the time when a patient visits the hospital for a kidney biopsy, now is possible using a computer model based on artificial intelligence (AI).

The findings, which appear in the journal Kidney International Reports, can help make predictions at the point-of-care and assist clinical decision-making.

Nephropathology is a specialization that analyzes biopsy images. While large clinical centers in the U.S. might greatly benefit from having 'in-house' nephropathologists, this is not the case in most parts of the country or around the world.

According to the researchers, the application of machine learning frameworks, such as convolutional neural networks (CNN) for object recognition tasks, is proving to be valuable for classification of diseases as well as reliable for the analysis of radiology images including malignancies.

To test the feasibility of applying this technology to the analysis of routinely obtained kidney biopsies, the researchers performed a proof of principle study on kidney biopsy sections with various amounts of (also commonly known as scarring of tissue). The machine learning framework based on CNN relied on pixel density of digitized images, while the severity of disease was determined by several clinical laboratory measures and renal survival. CNN performance then was compared with that of the models generated using the amount of fibrosis reported by a nephropathologist as the sole input and corresponding lab measures and renal survival as the outputs. For all scenarios, CNN models outperformed the other models.

"While the trained eyes of expert pathologists are able to gauge the severity of disease and detect nuances of with remarkable accuracy, such expertise is not available in all locations, especially at a global level. Moreover, there is an urgent need to standardize the quantification of severity such that the efficacy of therapies established in clinical trials can be applied to treat patients with equally severe disease in routine practice," explained corresponding author Vijaya B. Kolachalama, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. "When implemented in the clinical setting, our work will allow pathologists to see things early and obtain insights that were not previously available," said Kolachalama.

The researchers believe their model has both diagnostic and prognostic applications and may lead to the development of a software application for diagnosing kidney disease and predicting kidney survival. "If healthcare providers around the world can have the ability to classify kidney biopsy images with the accuracy of a nephropathologist right at the point-of-care, then this can significantly impact renal practice. In essence, our model has the potential to act as a surrogate nephropathologist, especially in resource-limited settings," said Kolachalama.

Three attending nephrologists, Vipul Chitalia, MD, David Salant, MD and Jean Francis, MD, as well as a nephropathologist Joel Henderson, MD, all from Boston Medical Center contributed to this study.

Each year, kidney disease kills more people than breast or prostate cancer, and the overall prevalence of (CKD) in the general population is approximately 14 percent. More than 661,000 Americans have kidney failure. Of these, 468,000 individuals are on dialysis, and roughly 193,000 live with a functioning . In 2013, more than 47,000 Americans died from kidney . Medicare spending for patients with CKD ages 65 and older exceeded $50 billion in 2013 and represented 20 percent of all Medicare spending in this age group. Medicare fee-for-service spending for beneficiaries rose by 1.6 percent, from $30.4 billion in 2012 to $30.9 billion in 2013, accounting for 7.1 percent of the overall Medicare paid claims costs.

Explore further: Model predicts development of chronic kidney disease

Related Stories

Model predicts development of chronic kidney disease

November 16, 2017
(HealthDay)—A multivariable model that uses routine laboratory data is able to predict advanced chronic kidney disease after hospitalization with acute kidney injury, according to a study published online Nov. 14 in the ...

New findings on tolvaptan as autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease treatment

November 5, 2017
A phase 3 trial studying the effects of tolvaptan has found that the drug slowed the rate of decline in kidney function in patients with the most common form of polycystic kidney disease, a condition with no cure. The results ...

High burden, high cost and low awareness of kidney disease in the United States

October 30, 2017
According to an annual data report from the United State Renal Data System, the overall burden of kidney disease remains high in U.S. with the rates of kidney failure requiring dialysis or kidney transplantation ranking among ...

Reflux medications linked to chronic kidney disease and kidney failure

November 5, 2017
A recent analysis has linked certain medications commonly used to treat heartburn, acid reflux, and ulcers with the development of kidney disease. The findings will be presented at ASN Kidney Week 2017 October 31-November ...

Medicare spends billions on chronic kidney disease, study finds

March 29, 2016
(HealthDay)—Chronic kidney disease affects nearly 14 percent of Americans and costs Medicare billions of dollars a year, a new study reveals.

New tools to combat kidney fibrosis

October 16, 2017
Interstitial fibrosis – excessive tissue scarring – contributes to chronic kidney disease, which is increasing in prevalence in the United States.

Recommended for you

Gene plays critical role in noise-induced deafness

October 19, 2018
In experiments using mice, a team of UC San Francisco researchers has discovered a gene that plays an essential role in noise-induced deafness. Remarkably, by administering an experimental chemical—identified in a separate ...

Functional engineered oesophagus could pave way for clinical trials 

October 18, 2018
The world's first functional oesophagus engineered from stem cells has been grown and successfully transplanted into mice, as part of a pioneering new study led by UCL.

New findings cast light on lymphatic system, key player in human health

October 16, 2018
Scientists at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have broken new ground in understanding how the lymphatic system works, potentially opening the door for future therapies.

New model suggests cuffless, non-invasive blood pressure monitoring possible using pulse waves

October 16, 2018
A large team of researchers from several institutions in China and the U.S. has developed a model that suggests it should be possible to create a cuffless, non-invasive blood pressure monitor based on measuring pulse waves. ...

Age-related increase in estrogen may cause common men's hernia

October 16, 2018
An age-related increase in estrogen may be the culprit behind inguinal hernias, a condition common among elderly men that often requires corrective surgery, according to a Northwestern Medicine study was published Oct. 15 ...

Income and wealth affect the mental health of Australians, study shows

October 16, 2018
Australians who have higher incomes and greater wealth are more likely to experience better mental health throughout their lives, new research led by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.