Artificial Intelligence and Informatics - Original Article

CT images-based 3D convolutional neural network to predict early recurrence of solitary hepatocellular carcinoma after radical hepatectomy


  • Hao Cui
  • Kun-Yuan Wang
  • Wen-Yuan Li
  • Hong-Bo Zhu
  • Lu-Shan Xiao
  • Li Liu

Received Date: 01.01.2021 Accepted Date: 10.08.2021 Diagn Interv Radiol 2022;28(6):524-531


The high rate of recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after radical hepatectomy is an important factor that affects the long-term survival of patients. This study aimed to develop a computed tomography (CT) images-based 3-dimensional (3D) convolutional neural network (CNN) for the preoperative prediction of early recurrence (ER) (≤2 years) after radical hepatectomy in patients with solitary HCC and to compare the effects of segmentation sampling (SS) and non-segmentation sampling (NSS) on the prediction performance of 3D-CNN.


Contrast-enhanced CT images of 220 HCC patients were used in this study (training group=178 and test group=42). We used SS and NSS to select the volume-of-interest to train SS-3D-CNN and NSS-3D-CNN separately. The prediction accuracy was evaluated using the test group. Finally, gradient-weighted class activation mappings (Grad-CAMs) were plotted to analyze the difference of prediction logic between the SS-3D-CNN and NSS-3D-CNN.


The areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUCs) of the SS-3D-CNN and NSS3D-CNN in the training group were 0.824 (95% CI: 0.764-0.885) and 0.868 (95% CI: 0.815-0.921). The AUC of the SS-3D-CNN and NSS-3D-CNN in the test group were 0.789 (95% CI: 0.637-0.941) and 0.560 (95% CI: 0.378-0.742). The SS-3D-CNN could stratify patients into low- and high-risk groups, with significant differences in recurrence-free survival (RFS) (P < .001). But NSS-3D-CNN could not effectively stratify them in the test group. According to the Grad-CAMs, compared with SS-3D-CNN, NSS-3D-CNN was obviously interfered by the nearby tissues.


SS-3D-CNN may be of clinical use for identifying high-risk patients and formulating individualized treatment and follow-up strategies. SS is better than NSS in improving the performance of 3D-CNN in our study.