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Deep Learning Predicts Total Knee Replacement from Magnetic Resonance Images


Knee Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common musculoskeletal disorder in the United States. When diagnosed at early stages, lifestyle interventions such as exercise and weight loss can slow OA progression, but at later stages, only an invasive option is available: total knee replacement (TKR). Though a generally successful procedure, only 2/3 of patients who undergo the procedure report their knees feeling "normal" post-operation, and complications can arise that require revision. This necessitates a model to identify a population at higher risk of TKR, particularly at less advanced stages of OA, such that appropriate treatments can be implemented that slow OA progression and delay TKR. Here, we present a deep learning pipeline that leverages MRI images and clinical and demographic information to predict TKR with AUC 0.834 ± 0.036 (p < 0.05). Most notably, the pipeline predicts TKR with AUC 0.943 ± 0.057 (p < 0.05) for patients without OA. Furthermore, we develop occlusion maps for case-control pairs in test data and compare regions used by the model in both, thereby identifying TKR imaging biomarkers. As such, this work takes strides towards a pipeline with clinical utility, and the biomarkers identified further our understanding of OA progression and eventual TKR onset.

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