Background: Pathologist evaluation of donor liver biopsies provides information for accepting or discarding potential donor livers. Due to the urgent nature of the decision process, this is regularly performed using frozen sectioning at the time of biopsy. The percent steatosis in a donor liver biopsy correlates with transplant outcome, however there is significant inter- and intra-observer variability in quantifying steatosis, compounded by frozen section artifact. We hypothesized that a deep learning model could identify and quantify steatosis in donor liver biopsies. Methods: We developed a deep learning convolutional neural network that generates a steatosis probability map from an input whole slide image (WSI) of a hematoxylin and eosin-stained frozen section, and subsequently calculates the percent steatosis. Ninety-six WSI of frozen donor liver sections from our transplant pathology service were annotated for steatosis and used to train (n = 30 WSI) and test (n = 66 WSI) the deep learning model. Findings: The model had good correlation and agreement with the annotation in both the training set (r of 0.88, intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] of 0.88) and novel input test sets (r = 0.85 and ICC=0.85). These measurements were superior to the estimates of the on-service pathologist at the time of initial evaluation (r = 0.52 and ICC=0.52 for the training set, and r = 0.74 and ICC=0.72 for the test set). Interpretation: Use of this deep learning algorithm could be incorporated into routine pathology workflows for fast, accurate, and reproducible donor liver evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103029
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Biopsy
  • Convolutional neural network
  • Deep learning
  • Digital pathology
  • Image analysis
  • Liver transplantation
  • Steatosis


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