Decision Support Systems in Diuresis Renography
The volume of diagnostic imaging studies performed in the United States is rapidly increasing resulting from an increase in the number of patients as well as an increase in the volume of studies per patient. Concurrently, the number and complexity of images in each patient data set are also increasing. Nuclear medicine physicians and radiologists are required to master an ever-expanding knowledge base whereas the hours available to master this knowledge base and apply it to specific tasks are steadily shrinking. The convergence of an expanding knowledge base and escalating time constraints increases the likelihood of physician errors. The problem is particularly acute for low-volume studies such as MAG3 diuresis renography where many imagers may have had limited training or experience. To address this problem, renal decision support systems (DSS) are being developed to assist physicians evaluate suspected obstruction in patients referred for diuresis renography. Categories of DSS include neural networks, case-based reasoning, expert systems and statistical systems; RENEX and CART are examples of renal DSS currently in development. RENEX (renal expert) uses a set of rules obtained from human experts to analyze a knowledge base of expanded quantitative parameters obtained from diuresis MAG3 scintigraphy whereas CART (classification and regression tree analysis) is a statistical method that grows and prunes a decision tree based on an analysis of these quantitative parameters in a training data set. RENEX can be queried to provide the reasons for its conclusions. Initial data show that the interpretations provided by RENEX and CART are comparable to the interpretations of a panel of experts blinded to clinical information. This project should serve as a benchmark for the scientific comparison and collaboration of these 2 fields of medical decision-making. Moreover, we anticipate that these DSS will better define the essential interpretative criteria, foster standardized interpretation, teach trainees to better interpret renal scans, enhance diagnostic accuracy and provide a methodology applicable to other diagnostic problems in radiology and medicine.
Copyright © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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