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Identifying free-text features to improve automated classification of structured histopathology reports for feline small intestinal disease

Awaysheh, Abdullah, Wilcke, Jeffrey, Elvinger, François, Rees, Loren, Fan, Weiguo, Zimmerman, Kurt
algorithms, artificial intelligence, automation, biopsy, cats, gastrointestinal system, histology, histopathology, inflammatory bowel disease, lymphoma, neural networks, plasma cells
The histologic evaluation of gastrointestinal (GI) biopsies is the standard for diagnosis of a variety of GI diseases (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease [IBD] and alimentary lymphoma [ALA]). The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Gastrointestinal International Standardization Group proposed a reporting standard for GI biopsies consisting of a defined set of microscopic features. We compared the machine classification accuracy of free-text microscopic findings with those represented in the WSAVA format with a diagnosis of IBD and ALA. Unstructured free-text duodenal biopsy pathology reports from cats (n = 60) with a diagnosis of IBD (n = 20), ALA (n = 20), or normal (n = 20) were identified. Biopsy samples from these cases were then scored following the WSAVA guidelines to create a set of structured reports. Three supervised machine-learning algorithms were trained using the structured and then the unstructured reports. Diagnosis classification accuracy for the 3 algorithms was compared using the structured and unstructured reports. Using naive Bayes and neural networks, unstructured information-based models achieved higher diagnostic accuracy (0.90 and 0.88, respectively) compared to the structured information-based models (0.74 and 0.72, respectively). Results suggest that discriminating diagnostic information was lost using current WSAVA microscopic guideline features. Addition of free-text features (number of plasma cells) increased WSAVA auto-classification performance. The methodologies reported in our study represent a way of identifying candidate microscopic features for use in structured histopathology reports.