Classification of Radiology Reports Using Neural Attention Models

Bonggun Shin, Falgun H. Chokshi, Timothy Lee, Jinho D. Choi


The electronic health record (EHR) contains a large amount of multi-dimensional and unstructured clinical data of significant operational and research value. Distinguished from previous studies, our approach embraces a double-annotated dataset and strays away from obscure “black-box” models to comprehensive deep learning models. In this paper, we present a novel neural attention mechanism that not only classifies clinically important findings. Specifically, convolutional neural networks (CNN) with attention analysis are used to classify radiology head computed tomography reports based on five categories that radiologists would account for in assessing acute and communicable findings in daily practice. The experiments show that our CNN attention models outperform non-neural models, especially when trained on a larger dataset. Our attention analysis demonstrates the intuition behind the classifier's decision by generating a heatmap that highlights attended terms used by the CNN model; this is valuable when potential downstream medical decisions are to be performed by human experts or the classifier information is to be used in cohort construction such as for epidemiological studies.

Venue / Year

Proceedings of the International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN) / 2017


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