Nuclear Morphometry using a Deep Learning-based Algorithm has Prognostic Relevance for Canine Cutaneous Mast Cell Tumors

Andreas Haghofer, Eda Parlak, Alexander Bartel, Taryn A. Donovan, Charles-Antoine Assenmacher, Pompei Bolfa, Michael J. Dark, Andrea Fuchs-Baumgartinger, Andrea Klang, Kathrin Jäger, Robert Klopfleisch, Sophie Merz, Barbara Richter, F. Yvonne Schulman, Jonathan Ganz, Josef Scharinger, Marc Aubreville, Stephan M. Winkler, Matti Kiupel, Christof A. Bertram

Research output: Working paperPreprint

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Variation in nuclear size and shape is an important criterion of malignancy for many tumor types; however, categorical estimates by pathologists have poor reproducibility. Measurements of nuclear characteristics (morphometry) can improve reproducibility, but manual methods are time consuming. In this study, we evaluated fully automated morphometry using a deep learning-based algorithm in 96 canine cutaneous mast cell tumors with information on patient survival. Algorithmic morphometry was compared with karyomegaly estimates by 11 pathologists, manual nuclear morphometry of 12 cells by 9 pathologists, and the mitotic count as a benchmark. The prognostic value of automated morphometry was high with an area under the ROC curve regarding the tumor-specific survival of 0.943 (95% CI: 0.889 - 0.996) for the standard deviation (SD) of nuclear area, which was higher than manual morphometry of all pathologists combined (0.868, 95% CI: 0.737 - 0.991) and the mitotic count (0.885, 95% CI: 0.765 - 1.00). At the proposed thresholds, the hazard ratio for algorithmic morphometry (SD of nuclear area $\geq 9.0 \mu m^2$) was 18.3 (95% CI: 5.0 - 67.1), for manual morphometry (SD of nuclear area $\geq 10.9 \mu m^2$) 9.0 (95% CI: 6.0 - 13.4), for karyomegaly estimates 7.6 (95% CI: 5.7 - 10.1), and for the mitotic count 30.5 (95% CI: 7.8 - 118.0). Inter-rater reproducibility for karyomegaly estimates was fair ($\kappa$ = 0.226) with highly variable sensitivity/specificity values for the individual pathologists. Reproducibility for manual morphometry (SD of nuclear area) was good (ICC = 0.654). This study supports the use of algorithmic morphometry as a prognostic test to overcome the limitations of estimates and manual measurements.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2023


  • cs.CV

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