Ulcer severity grading in video capsule images of patients with Crohn's disease: an ordinal neural network solution

Yiftach Barash*, Liran Azaria, Shelly Soffer, Reuma Margalit Yehuda, Oranit Shlomi, Shomron Ben-Horin, Rami Eliakim, Eyal Klang, Uri Kopylov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Aims: Capsule endoscopy (CE) is an important modality for diagnosis and follow-up of Crohn's disease (CD). The severity of ulcers at endoscopy is significant for predicting the course of CD. Deep learning has been proven accurate in detecting ulcers on CE. However, endoscopic classification of ulcers by deep learning has not been attempted. The aim of our study was to develop a deep learning algorithm for automated grading of CD ulcers on CE. Methods: We retrospectively collected CE images of CD ulcers from our CE database. In experiment 1, the severity of each ulcer was graded by 2 capsule readers based on the PillCam CD classification (grades 1-3 from mild to severe), and the inter-reader variability was evaluated. In experiment 2, a consensus reading by 3 capsule readers was used to train an ordinal convolutional neural network (CNN) to automatically grade images of ulcers, and the resulting algorithm was tested against the consensus reading. A pretraining stage included training the network on images of normal mucosa and ulcerated mucosa. Results: Overall, our dataset included 17,640 CE images from 49 patients; 7391 images with mucosal ulcers and 10,249 normal images. A total of 2598 randomly selected pathologic images were further graded from 1 to 3 according to ulcer severity in the 2 different experiments. In experiment 1, overall inter-reader agreement occurred for 31% of the images (345 of 1108) and 76% (752 of 989) for distinction of grades 1 and 3. In experiment 2, the algorithm was trained on 1242 images. It achieved an overall agreement for consensus reading of 67% (166 of 248) and 91% (158 of 173) for distinction of grades 1 and 3. The classification accuracy of the algorithm was 0.91 (95% confidence interval, 0.867-0.954) for grade 1 versus grade 3 ulcers, 0.78 (95% confidence interval, 0.716-0.844) for grade 2 versus grade 3, and 0.624 (95% confidence interval, 0.547-0.701) for grade 1 versus grade 2. Conclusions: CNN achieved high accuracy in detecting severe CD ulcerations. CNN-assisted CE readings in patients with CD can potentially facilitate and improve diagnosis and monitoring in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-192
Number of pages6
JournalGastrointestinal Endoscopy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


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