Automated Classification of Radiology Reports to Facilitate Retrospective Study in Radiology

Yihua Zhou, Per K. Amundson, Fang Yu, Marcus M. Kessler, Tammie L.S. Benzinger, Franz J. Wippold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Retrospective research is an import tool in radiology. Identifying imaging examinations appropriate for a given research question from the unstructured radiology reports is extremely useful, but labor-intensive. Using the machine learning text-mining methods implemented in LingPipe [1], we evaluated the performance of the dynamic language model (DLM) and the Naïve Bayesian (NB) classifiers in classifying radiology reports to facilitate identification of radiological examinations for research projects. The training dataset consisted of 14,325 sentences from 11,432 radiology reports randomly selected from a database of 5,104,594 reports in all disciplines of radiology. The training sentences were categorized manually into six categories (Positive, Differential, Post Treatment, Negative, Normal, and History). A 10-fold cross-validation [2] was used to evaluate the performance of the models, which were tested in classification of radiology reports for cases of sellar or suprasellar masses and colloid cysts. The average accuracies for the DLM and NB classifiers were 88.5 % with 95 % confidence interval (CI) of 1.9 % and 85.9 % with 95 % CI of 2.0 %, respectively. The DLM performed slightly better and was used to classify 1,397 radiology reports containing the keywords “sellar or suprasellar mass”, or “colloid cyst”. The DLM model produced an accuracy of 88.2 % with 95 % CI of 2.1 % for 959 reports that contain “sellar or suprasellar mass” and an accuracy of 86.3 % with 95 % CI of 2.5 % for 437 reports of “colloid cyst”. We conclude that automated classification of radiology reports using machine learning techniques can effectively facilitate the identification of cases suitable for retrospective research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-736
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Digital Imaging
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 6 2014


  • Computer analysis
  • Machine learning
  • Natural language processing
  • Radiology Information Systems (RIS)
  • Radiology report classification
  • Radiology reporting
  • Retrospective studies


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