Machine Learning Algorithms for Early Detection of Bone Metastases in an Experimental Rat Model

Ellmann S, Seyler L, Gillmann C, Popp V, Treutlein C, Bozec A, Uder M, Bäuerle T (2020)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2020


Journal Issue: 162

DOI: 10.3791/61235


Machine learning (ML) algorithms permit the integration of different features into a model to perform classification or regression tasks with an accuracy exceeding its constituents. This protocol describes the development of an ML algorithm to predict the growth of breast cancer bone macrometastases in a rat model before any abnormalities are observable with standard imaging methods. Such an algorithm can facilitate the detection of early metastatic disease (i.e., micrometastasis) that is regularly missed during staging examinations. The applied metastasis model is site-specific, meaning that the rats develop metastases exclusively in their right hind leg. The model's tumor-take rate is 60%-80%, with macrometastases becoming visible in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) in a subset of animals 30 days after induction, whereas a second subset of animals exhibit no tumor growth. Starting from image examinations acquired at an earlier time point, this protocol describes the extraction of features that indicate tissue vascularization detected by MRI, glucose metabolism by PET/CT, and the subsequent determination of the most relevant features for the prediction of macrometastatic disease. These features are then fed into a model-averaged neural network (avNNet) to classify the animals into one of two groups: one that will develop metastases and the other that will not develop any tumors. The protocol also describes the calculation of standard diagnostic parameters, such as overall accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, negative/positive predictive values, likelihood ratios, and the development of a receiver operating characteristic. An advantage of the proposed protocol is its flexibility, as it can be easily adapted to train a plethora of different ML algorithms with adjustable combinations of an unlimited number of features. Moreover, it can be used to analyze different problems in oncology, infection, and inflammation.

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Ellmann, S., Seyler, L., Gillmann, C., Popp, V., Treutlein, C., Bozec, A.,... Bäuerle, T. (2020). Machine Learning Algorithms for Early Detection of Bone Metastases in an Experimental Rat Model. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 162.


Ellmann, Stephan, et al. "Machine Learning Algorithms for Early Detection of Bone Metastases in an Experimental Rat Model." Journal of Visualized Experiments 162 (2020).

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